Archives For Film Reviews

Raw (2016)

September 3, 2017 — Leave a comment

After being force-fed meat during a hazing ritual, veterinarian student and hardcore vegetarian Justine (Garance Marillier) begins to develop an unhealthy interest in cannibalism in this surprisingly beautiful feature from French director Julie Ducournau. Surprisingly beautiful because when one hears the term ‘cannibal’ they’d be forgiven for conjuring up images from the works of Ruggero Deodato. What they probably won’t imagine is something like Raw, which goes outside the norm of what we would consider body horror.

Justine’s parents expect her to be a vet, and make the lifestyle choice of vegetarianism more akin to an indoctrination. At school, she reluctantly partakes in hazing so that she doesn’t stand out too much and embarrass her older sister, Alexia (Ella Rumpf), who attends the same school. Justine’s growing appetite for flesh may be highly unusual, but it serves as just another thing in her life that has been forced upon her. Yet as Raw progresses, we do see her try to embrace it and from doing so, she begins to develop and grow from a young girl into a grown woman who craves her own mind. When sister dearest admits to having the same predilections and invites her to her own carnivorous world, Justine chooses that moment to be her own person. Raw is as much a coming of age drama as it is a horror.

Read the rest of the review here.

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Stake Land II (2016)

September 2, 2017 — Leave a comment

In the 2010 film, a young teen, Martin (Connor Paolo) is taken under the wing of Mister (Nick Damici) after his family is butchered by vampires. Turns out America has been flooded by vampirism, turning the country into a wasteland where survival of the fittest runs deep. As Mister and Martin search for a place called New Eden, they encounter numerous other stragglers whilst avoiding vampires and religious zealots, The Brotherhood. Episodic in its narrative – you can tell it started off life as a potential web series – Stake Land managed to at least build a fairly cohesive universe. Its box office may have been small, but its fan base was legit. As such, the surprise isn’t that it has a sequel, but that it’s taken so long to arrive. And has it been worth the wait?

Stake Land II: The Stake Lander catches up with Martin several years after his time with Mister. He’s settled down in New Eden with Peggy (Bonnie Dennison), the plucky woman he met in the dying embers of the first film. Now a father who recalls his time with Mister as fairytales for his daughter, Martin’s happiness is cut viciously short when, again, his family is brutally slaughtered by a reassembled Brotherhood, led by a powerful new vampire known only as the Mother (Kristina Hughes). With his world in tatters, Martin goes in search of Mister hoping that he’ll assist him on his quest for revenge. Spoilers: he finds him and the two are soon on the road again with the smell of vampire blood in their nostrils.

Read the rest of the review here.

Bastardy (2008)

August 31, 2017 — Leave a comment

Amiel Courtin-Wilson pretty much sets up the tone of 2008’s Bastardy within its opening moments. “If I were to hide any of this,” says indigenous actor ‘Uncle’ Jack Charles as he lays out his drug paraphilia. “I don’t think this would be a true depiction of my lifestyle.” It’s a powerful image and not the last time we see Charles this open and frank.

Courtin-Wilson shoots Charles from a distance as he wanders around the streets of Melbourne leaving the larger than life character to seem tiny and insignificant in the world around him. In the best possible way, Bastardy shows the mass of contradictions that make up the then-homeless actor. As he waxes lyrical about his addiction, his lost love and his criminal record, Charles can leave his audience humble by his cheerfulness. He is happy to share his tales and is good for a philosophical thought or two. And yet, with the demons that run rife in Charles’ life, this kind of optimism doesn’t continue all the way through Bastardy.

Read the rest of the review here.

Sky (2016)

August 30, 2017 — Leave a comment

Having fled from her abusive boyfriend during a US road trip, Parisian Romy (Diane Kruger) continues her travels across Nevada in this drama about reawakening and restarting your life from director Fabienne Berthaud (Lily Sometimes). At least, that’s the idea behind Sky, what it provides is instead something of a headscratcher.

Films of this type usually have a particular DNA to them: the hero throws off the shackles of oppression – boyfriend, bad job etc. – before embarking on a journey of self-discovery and ultimately shedding the skin of her previous life. With Sky, it’s unclear whether we should be cheering Romy on or encouraging her to fly back to Paris for her own safety.

Read the rest of the review here.

Emile Hirsch plays Austin, a medical technician who regularly assists his coroner father, Tommy (Brian Cox), with autopsies at the local morgue. Prior to the events of the film, we learn that Austin’s mother passed away. Something which Tommy refuses to dwell on, throwing himself into solving the mysteries of the cadavers that are laid before him. It’s for this reason alone that Austin appears to anchor himself to his hometown, whilst simultaneously cutting off his nose to spite his face. Austin wants to look after his father, and perhaps even help him address his issues, but in doing so, he’s stopping himself from spreading his wings and move to bigger and better things with his girlfriend, Emma (Ophelia Lovibond).

It’s whilst Austin is preparing for a date with Emma, that Tommy is visited by the local Sherriff (Michael McElhatton) who has a complicated body on his hands. Investigating the house of a gruesome homicide/suicide, the sheriff has found the body of a twenty something woman half buried in the basement. Aside from being completely devoid of clothes and life, there’s nothing unusual about the Jane Doe, which is what makes the Sheriff so suspicious. He entrusts the matter to Tommy, hoping that the veteran coroner will be able to shed some light on her cause of death.

And that’s when things start to unravel. With Emma and the Sheriff out of sight, the father and son duo are left to begin the autopsy of Jane Doe.

Read the rest of the review here.

The US may have the Red franchise and Last Vegas, but when it comes to taking full advantage of the ‘grey pound’ market, the British seem to have it all sewn up. Films like The Best Exotic Marigold HotelGolden Years and Hampstead have served up, with varying success, an alternative to youth focused cinema.

The Time of Their Lives, written and directed by Roger Goldby, sees two OAPs, played by Joan Collins and Pauline Collins, thrown together by chance and jettisoned off to the beautiful French countryside. Joan C plays a once successful actress long since banished to a retirement home, whilst Pauline C inhabits a mousy housewife whose marriage has never recovered from the death of their eldest. Once over the Channel, the two become involved with an Italian artist, played by the original Django himself, Franco Nero. Cue themes of coming to terms with aging and grabbing firmly onto the chance of a second life.

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Three Summers (2017)

August 26, 2017 — Leave a comment

In Ben Elton’s second film as director, the writer and comedian uses the microcosm of a WA folk festival to pick at the scabs of Australia’s political climate both past and present. Elton has always been known for his politics, so his desire to sink his teeth into something like this is not surprising. What is surprising is how he wraps up the political back and forth in the form of a romantic comedy which sees overly serious theremin player, Roland (Robert Sheehan) and down to earth fiddle player Keevey (Rebecca Breeds) pretend they don’t fancy each other over three years.

Without this ‘will they? won’t they?’ as the main thrust of the film, Three Summerscould come across a little overwrought and perhaps even on-the-nose. That said, the film’s backdrop is a smart choice on Elton’s part; allowing characters of differing POVs to rub shoulders, without it feeling like they’ve been crowbarred into the scenario.

Read the rest of the review here.