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Silver Haze

Director – Sacha Polak – 2023 – UK – Cert. 15 – 102m

*****

A young nurse – who seeks closure and revenge from being burned in a fire as a child – falls into a romantic attachment which may lead her towards a sense of community – out in UK cinemas on Friday, March 29th

This is the second collaboration between writer-director Polak and performer Vicky Knight, who in real life as a small child was burned in a fire and whose flesh is marked by the physical scars of that trauma. In Dirty God (2019), their first film together, Knight delivered a bravura performance as the victim of an acid attack.

In addition to her being compelling on the screen in that film, Knight apparently enjoyed the whole process of making and promoting it, and Polak wanted to do a further film with her, writing a twenty-page fictional treatment and then leaping into a shoot without fully knowing what she was doing. Her backers misunderstood her to be making a documentary about Knight, yet this is a work of fiction, using created characters to explore the effect of Knight’s real life trauma. If the scars are clearly visible on Knight’s body, what draws you in is something altogether beyond that, the trauma playing out in her interior life.… Read the rest

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Cape Fear
(1991)

Director – Martin Scorsese – 1991 – US – Cert. 18 – 128m

*****

A vicious ex-con seeks revenge on the family of the lawyer he sees responsible for his incarceration in prison – review from Strait – the Greenbelt Newspaper, March 1992.

Directed by Martin Scorsese with characteristic and frenetic energy, Cape Fear is his best movie in years. It ranks not so much alongside The Last Temptation of Christ (1988, file under embarrassing personal projects along with Until the End of the World, Wim Wenders, 1991) but rather as a companion piece to early collaborations with actor Robert De Niro like Mean Streets (1973), Taxi Driver (1976) and Raging Bull (1980).

Here, the actor is first glimpsed from behind as a muscled torso tattooed with the Scales of Justice and numerous biblical verses. It’s a foretaste of things to come.

While the original Cape Fear (J. Lee Thompson, 1962) had Robert Mitchum as ex-con Max Cady who terrorises the lawyer (and his wife and daughter) responsible for his prosecution, Scorsese’s remake borrows religious elements from another Mitchum-as-villain vehicle, Night of the Hunter (Charles Laughton, 1955), in which his character justifies his actions in fundamentalist Christian terminology.

De Niro’s Cady is specifically a self-designated vessel of judgement upon the lawyer and his kin.… Read the rest

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Silver Haze

Scarred for life

Silver Haze
Directed by Sacha Polak
Certificate 15, 102 minutes
Released 29 March

As a small child in real life, the actor Vicky Knight was burned in a fire. Today, her body still bears the physical scars of the trauma she suffered. In Dirty God (2019), her first film with the director Sacha Polak, Knight delivered a bravura performance as the victim of an acid attack.

Polak wanted to further explore Knight’s trauma. The scars are clearly visible on Knight’s body, but what draws you in in Silver Haze is something deeper, her trauma playing out in her interior life. Knight is a gifted and talented actress; one hopes that Polak and other directors can find more roles for her in the future, not necessarily related to her bodily scars.

Knight plays Franky, a 23-year-old East London nurse who never got over the fire in which she was trapped as a child. The incident, discussed but never shown, has left much of her body scarred by severe burns. Her father was having an affair with a woman who, Franky has convinced herself, started the fire. [Read the rest at Reform magazine…]

Silver Haze is out in cinemas in the UK on Friday, March 29th.… Read the rest

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Fast X

Director – Louis Leterrier – 2023 – US – Cert. 12a – 141m

*1/2

In this latest entry in the Fast & Furious franchise, the son of a crime lord killed ten years ago sets out to exact his revenge on daredevil driver Dom Toretto and his family and associates – out in UK cinemas on Friday, May 12th

The tenth installment in the Fast & Furious franchise turns out to be the first part of a two-parter, with Fast X Part 2 now in preproduction. So don’t be surprised when this ends on a cliffhanger (actually a couple of cliffhangers).

Ten years ago, in Rio de Janeiro, crime lord Hernan Reyes was pursuing along a lengthy bridge two cars which had physically ripped the vault containing all his monetary wealth out of the middle of his headquarters building before dragging it behind them, during which Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) turned back to swing the vault on its chain to crush the crime lord to death in his car Hernan’s son Dante (Jason Momoa) survived the incident, and has sworn to inflict suffering and death upon Dom and his family. This is the move (or at least the first of two) in which he gets to work that out.… Read the rest

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The Dead
And The Deadly
(Ren Xia Ren,
人嚇人)

Director – Wu Ma – 1982 – Hong Kong – Cert. 12 – 99m

*****

A couple planning an inheritance swindle convince their victim to play along then kill him, after which he comes back as a ghost to take revenge – classic and seminal HK kung fu comedy is out on UK Blu-ray in a 2K restoration.

Made three years ahead of Mr. Vampire (Ricky Lau, 1985), this puts all the elements of that film in place, apart from the vampires. Actually, they’re not so much vampires as hopping ghosts (jiangshi). There’s no hopping in The Dead And The Deadly, but there are ghosts.

Chu (Sammo Hung) becomes suspicious when best friend Ma Lucho (Wu Ma) dies, suspecting Mrs. Ma (Leung Mei Hei) and her priest companion (Chung Fat) of poisoning him. As becomes clear from an early scene in a brothel, Ma is not gifted with women, so Chu is surprised that his surviving wife is pregnant. What he hasn’t realised is that Ma is actually in on the scam and is only pretending to be dead.

But that changes about an hour in when Ma’s two co-conspirators kill him for real to get his money, as Mrs.… Read the rest

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Julie Delpy
talks about
Three Colours: White

Transcript of interview from 1994 with actress Julie Delpy on Three Colours: White. She plays the short but pivotal role of the main character’s ex-wife, whose appearances bookend the film. At the time, the third film in the trilogy had yet to be screened to press.

She was based in LA., on which subject our conversation started:

“I’m doing everything. Both European and American films. My project there is similar to what I was doing before – American films and European films and co-productions, whatever. I’m not trying to see where I should be, I’m just trying to find something that I like to do. It’s a bigger choice when you’re over there.”

Three Colours: White is very much a European film – not a film set in any one country but partly in Paris and largely in Poland. How did she get involved?

“I knew Kieślowski, I met him a few times, he’s a friend of Agnieszka Holland with whom I had worked on Europa Europa. I had tested on The Double Life Of Veronique, but knew that I wouldn’t get that part because he told me before the casting began that I wasn’t right for it, but he wanted to audition me because he was thinking of something else later.… Read the rest

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Piggy
(Cerdita)

Director – Carlota Pereda – 2022 – Spain – Cert. 18 – 99m

*****

Director – Carlota Pereda – 2018 – Spain – 13m

*****

Fat-shaming, bullying, overbearing mothers, growing up as the local butcher’s daughter, and more – feature based on short is out in UK cinemas on Friday, January 6th

Sara (Laura Galán) is attempting to navigate the difficult waters of adolescence. It isn’t much fun if you’re different and cliques of your contemporaries gang up on you. In Sara’s case, she isn’t just fat, she’s also introverted and shuns people, which compounds the amount she gets teased. She often works in her father’s butchers shop, so bullies can easily put together insults based on fat and flesh and pork and meat. A clique of three, thinner girls – Roci (Camille Aguilar) and Maca (Claudia Salas) and their unwilling hanger-on Claudia aka Clau (Irene Ferreiro) – call her Piggy.

It’s Summer, and everyone is going down to the Madrigal (Waterfall) festivities at the pool on the river, where a mysterious out-of-towner is lounging about, but Sara sneaks down there later for a swim when she hopes nobody is around. She’s just getting into the water when the stranger (Richard Holmes) surfaces innocently, startling her.… Read the rest

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The Northman

Director – Robert Eggers – 2022 – US – Cert. 15 – 136m

*****

A 10th Century Viking prince vows revenge on his father king’s killer and sees it through to death – out in cinemas on Friday, April 15th

Young Viking Prince Amleth (Oscar Novak from The Batman) is thrilled when his warrior father King Aurvandil War-Raven (Ethan Hawke) returns with a line of prisoners in two to his fortified stronghold and Queen Gudrún (Nicole Kidman). Father and son are devoted to each other, participating in a private ritual involving bodily sounds and consumption of an hallucinogenic liquid that causes the boy to experience a vision of his family line: a tree of life where the trunk is a spine and branches are umbilical cords attached to grown kings as the viewpoint pans up reveal the boy attached to the highest cord. He is now prepared to take over the rule of the kingdom when his father dies.

He doesn’t seem to get on quite so well with his mother, who warns him never to enter her room unannounced. At a banquet in honour of Aurvandil, his dour brother Fjölnir (Claes Bang from The Square, Ruben Östlund, 2017) takes exception to court jester Heimir the Fool (Willem Dafoe).… Read the rest

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Promising
Young Woman

Director – Emerald Fennell – 2020 – US – Cert. US R – 113m

*****

A med school dropout seeks revenge on the students and others complicit in her best friend’s rape years before – on Sky Cinema and Now from Friday, April 16th

Cassie (Carey Mulligan) goes to bars, gets wasted and is picked up by men whose intentions are less than honourable. However, all is not what it seems – before you can shout spoiler alert (and we’re not going to because this is the start of the film, given away in the trailer and effectively part of the narrative set up) she’s not wasted at all, only pretending. Depending on exactly how dishonourable these men’s intentions are, she exacts her revenge accordingly.

These acts are premeditated in the sense that she goes out, entraps men and does what she does, but not in the sense that she knows any of the men beforehand. Indeed, they choose her, so you could argue their fate is self-inflicted. And were any of them to behave chivalrously – take her home, put her to bed, not try to take sexual advantage, perhaps phone the next day to check she was okay – she’d probably look favourably on them for doing the decent thing.… Read the rest

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The Gangster,
The Cop,
The Devil
(Akinjeon,
악인전)

Director – Lee Won-Tae – 2019 – South Korea – Cert. 15 – 109m

****

Better the devil you know. A no-nonsense cop and a ruthless gangland boss join forces to catch a serial killer in this South Korean thrilleron BBC Four Sunday, March 7th 22.00 and for one year after

Violent motorist Kang Kyung-ho (Kim Sungkyu) tailgates cars then after he and they have both pulled over stabs their unsuspecting drivers to death. One night, he picks mob boss Jang Dong-su (Ma Dong-seok) who fights back and gets away, inflicting wounds on the killer despite being first stabbed in the back. Meanwhile, his nemesis, cop Jung Tae-suk (Kim Mu-Yeol), is pursuing the same serial killer. Cop and gangster enter into an uneasy alliance to catch the murderer.

As South Korean gangster and crime movies have developed in recent decades, they’ve generally become slicker and, on one level, technically more proficient. Yet on another level, earlier South Korean gangster movies, while rougher around the edges, often have a lot more going on underneath the surface. This one however, while covering everything with the contemporary, superficially fast-paced and slick veneer with lots of impressive car chases and extremely violent one-on-one or group fights, achieves much more interesting dynamics beneath the slick, mass produced veneer.… Read the rest