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Babylon

Director – Damien Chazelle – 2022 – US – Cert. 18 – 188m

***1/2

The rise and fall of stars and other talents navigating the excessive lifestyle and work ethic of the silent era US movie business – out in UK cinemas on Friday, January 20th

Having established himself as a top A-list Hollywood director with the likes of Whiplash (2014) and La La Land (2016), Chazelle delivers a cast of thousands epic about Hollywood in the silent era and beyond, a project that’s apparently been gestating in his head for some 15 years. With its name referencing a city that grew to great heights and considerable excess before crumbling into dust, Babylon starts with Manny Torres (Mexican actor Diego Calva in his first US role) and compatriots attempting to deliver an elephant to a Hollywood party at a desert mansion in the middle of nowhere. The tone for the whole is set – or perhaps set free from audience preconception about what is to follow – when one of Calva’s compadres, walking behind the trailer containing the creature pushing it up a hill, is unexpectedly covered in elephant excrement.

Effervescent force of nature Nellie LaRoy (Margot Robbie) considers herself a movie star before she actually is a movie star.… Read the rest

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Bodies Bodies Bodies

Director – Halina Reijn – 2022 – US – Cert. 15 – 94m

*

A make-believe party game of murder turns into horrifying reality when pretend dead bodies turn out to be really dead and the genuine body count continues to mount – out in UK cinemas on Friday, September 9th

Five women, three couples, two exes, one single. Seven people. Six twentysomethings. They gather in the house of one of their number David (Peter Davidson), whose absent parents are rich and the house and grounds reflect that. Sophie (Amandla Stenberg) and Bee (Maria Bakalova) have been together maybe six weeks. David and Emma (Chase Sui Wonders) longer. Alice (Rachel Sennott) and fortysomething Greg (Lee Pace) a mere two weeks. Jordan (Myha’la Herrold) is not coupled.

This is a hurricane party – a party held following a hurricane warning where power outages are likely, so people gather together to pool their perishable resources e.g. food from switched off fridges and avoid the need to travel over several days. The script assumes the audience knows all this, but to people living outside the US this may be a completely new concept; the script here makes much use of power outages but completely fails to exploit the shared resources and lack of travel aspects of the phenomenon.… Read the rest

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The Shape Of Water

Loving the alien

The Shape Of Water
Directed by Guillermo del Toro
Certificate 15, 123 minutes
Released 14 February 2018

There’s a tradition in horror films and fairytales that the monster is bad. The Shape Of Water is a fairytale that features a monster (Doug Jones) who is viewed very differently by different characters. To the military security man, Strickland (Michael Shannon), it’s an affront to the image of God, in which man is created, which must be brutally subdued. To the scientist and Russian agent, Hoffstetler (Michael Stuhlbarg), he’s an intelligent being from whom our species has much to learn and who should be kept alive at all costs and treated with respect – rather than killed and dissected as the authorities suggest. And to the mute cleaning lady, Elisa (Sally Hawkins), who subsequently falls in love with him, he’s someone who responds to hard-boiled eggs and Benny Goodman records, and sees her for herself rather than for her so-called disability… [read more]

Read the full review in Reform, February 2018.

Trailer:

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The Banishing

Director – Christopher Smith – 2020 – UK – Cert. 15 – 97m

***1/2

A vicar, his wife and their daughter move into a haunted rectory which seems to be out to get them – on digital platforms from Friday, March 26th and Shudder from Thursday, April 15th

The Rev Stanley Hall (Matthew Clarke) is found hanged from the top of four-poster bed in his bedroom in the old rectory near the village. This follows a session with his hefty bible, annotated in placed with scrawled pentagrams and pages burned through with holes, his reading out loud Pauline admonitions against ‘sexual immorality’ and a bizarre vision of himself either having sex with or inflicting extreme bloody violence upon his wife (or possibly both at once – it’s not entirely clear). Bishop Malachi (John Lynch) is summoned to the house.

Three years later, Malachi installs a new vicar Linus (John Heffernan) in the property which has remained vacant in the interim. Linus is joined by wife Marianne (Jessica Brown Findlay) and her illegitimate daughter Adelaide (Anya Mckenna-Bruce) as well as the house’s incumbent deaf maid Betsy (Jean St. Clair). Like his predecessor, Linus is obsessed with abstaining from sexual immorality, despite his wife’s pointing out to him that they are married.… Read the rest