Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Film Review: Serial Killer Culture (2014)

Serial Killer Culture poster

Documentary filmmaker John Borowski takes us on a tour of the extreme end of serial killer fanatics in his new film by presenting roughly ten minute slots to 13 different characters who have each dedicated a large part of their life to the history and surrounding culture of serial killers. From academics who write about the detailed psychology of the killers; to collectors of convicted killers disturbing art that they paint in prison; to musicians who write songs solely about killers and their crimes.  Each is given a chance to explain their interest in the subject, with one of the final interviewees being Borowski turning the camera on himself. 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Film Review: We Gotta Get Out Of This Place (2014)

We Gotta Get Out Of This Place poster

Texas is a violent place.  It doesn’t matter whether you form your opinions through current affairs and broadcast news, or gritty cinema; there is clearly a lot of violence in Texas.

Bobby (Jeremy Allen White) is a high school graduate about to fulfill his dream of escaping the rural farmland and heading to the big city with his best friend Sue (Mackenzie Davis), whom he secretly loves.  The only problem is that Sue is dating his other best friend B.J. (Logan Huffman), who is being left behind to work on the farm with the aggressive thug Giff (Mark Pellegrino).

Before they go away, B.J. convinces his two friends to travel to Mexico for a last big holiday.  Only when they return home he admits that he stole the money to pay for it from Giff.  When Giff finds out (in an amazingly tense scene) he tells them that they must steal from local racketeers in order to pay him back.  B.J. then concocts a ‘foolproof’ plan that comes under strain when he suspects his two friends of hiding a secret from him… 

Friday, August 8, 2014

Film Reivew: God's Pocket (2014)

God's Pocket

Bostonian John Slattery, the ‘silver fox’ Roger Sterling from Mad Men has written and directed his first feature film and packed it full of his celebrity friends.  Somewhere between a gritty drama and a classic comedy farce, the action takes place in a tough inner city area known as God’s Pocket.

Mickey (Philip Seymour Hoffman) is a blue-collar Philadelphia meat-worker who spends his life drinking in the same bar, betting on the same horses and committing the same petit crime, such as stealing lorries filled with meat.  One day he learns that his antagonistic stepson Leon (Caleb Landry Jones) has been suspiciously killed at a construction site, so he has to raise the money for the perfect funeral that his wife Jeanie (Christina Hendricks) wants for him. 

Meanwhile a cynical and alcoholic journalist (Richard Jenkins) writes about the death, and other unsavory aspects of the area known as God’s Pocket, and begins to spend time with Jeanie in order to investigate what really happened to her son.  At the same time, Mickey’s friend Arthur (John Turturro) is helping him raise some illegitimate funds for a memorial whilst dodging his own loan shark.  Whilst the journalist tries to uncover what happened to Leon, Mickey has to figure out a way of looking after the corpse of his stepson and prepare him for a funeral…

There Will Be Blood...Live! at the Roundhouse, Camden

Last night, the Roundhouse Theatre in Camden hosted the second of two evenings screening of Paul Thomas Anderson’s epic There Will Be Blood to a crowd of thousands.  Although the film itself is a masterpiece, the crowds were primarily there to witness the London Contemporary Orchestra perform Jonny Greenwood’s unforgettable score as a live accompaniment to the picture.  This was a two-night world premiere of an event that is set to travel across the world.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Film Review: The Man Whose Mind Exploded (2014)

The Man Whose Mind Exploded poster

What would you do if you had no short-term memory? 

How would you remember what you had to do with your day or where you had just been, or the relationship with the person who has come to visit you?  How could you stay in touch with your own personality?  All of these questions are raised in the touching documentary from director Toby Amies, The Man Whose Mind Exploded.

The eponymous hero with the ‘exploded’ mind is Tony Banwell, aka Drako Zarharzar, a 76-year-old Brighton man that developed acute anterograde amnesia from a number of car accidents and comas that prohibits him from creating any new memories.  This means that he can tell stories from his past and laugh and joke about his immediate surroundings, but cannot remember anything after a short while and has to live totally “in the now”.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Film Review: Blackwood (2014)

Is it possible for anyone to reinvent the haunted house story? No.  Is it possible to learn from the genre and have some fun anyway? Definitely.  Latest UK horror film Blackwood tries to do just that with a tongue-in-cheek rural ghost story with a few modern twists.

The movie lifts most of its opening scenes directly from The Shining.  It begins with Ben Marshall (Ed Stoppard) moving his wife Rachael (Sophia Myles) and son Harry (Isaac Andrews) into a big spooky house called Blackwood so that he can continue his career as a University history professor. The house is big enough for the son to run round exploring and continually getting lost in the nearby woods, where he meets Jack (Russell Tovey) a creepy neighbor who Ben immediately distrusts.

It is revealed that Ben is returning to work after an emotional breakdown and that he has an obsessive mind, which soon turns to the previous occupant of the house that has left mysterious paintings behind.  After a few nights in the house Ben begins to have visions involving his son and the neighbor Jack.  This leads him to turn his historical, obsessive mind to finding out what happened in the house and local area and what implications it might have for his family. 

Monday, August 4, 2014

Film Review: Lilting (2014)

Lilting poster

The symbolic place of the mother-in-law continues to hold a strange cultural position in Britain.  Relegated for years as the butt of jokes from seaside comedians such as Les Dawson they continue to be seen as one of the inevitable burdens that couples accept as part of a marriage.  This stereotype is a harsh (indeed misogynist) caricature of reality and feels like a ‘70s television/sitcom cliché more than a cinematic one.  But a difficult question can often create the most profound narratives:  What would you do if your partner died and left behind a lonely but vulnerable elderly mother that resented you?  First time director Hong Khaou probes this question in his new drama Lilting with masterful tact and insight. 

Kai (Andrew Leung) has recently relocated his Chinese-speaking mother Junn (Pei-pei Cheng) into a residential home in London whilst he makes preparations to help her move into his flat with his boyfriend Richard (Ben Whirshaw). Just before he can tell her he is killed in a car accident leaving the profoundly grief stricken Richard to try and help Junn integrate more with the world around her. 

Richard discovers that Junn has met Alan (Peter Bowles) another resident of the home so hires the help of translator Vann (Naomi Christie) to allow them to communicate.  The narrative travels between Richard desperately trying to engage with the melancholic and lonely older women, and Kai and Richard as they had prepared to help her integrate more with London and the world around her.