A Bigger Splash – DVD Review

Ralph Fiennes is immortalised in our minds as one of the best villain actors of all time. Whether it’s terrifyingly stalking the barracks of Auschwitz in Schindler’s List or his nose-less flapping about trying to kill a teenage wizard in the Harry Potter series, you’d have seen his menacing brow in a film before and probably had it populate your nightmares.

The actor, lately, seems to have a resurgence of comedic roles under his belt. His most prolific was as the light voiced M. Gustave in Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel, and was even nominated for an Academy Award and BAFTA for it.

However, he levels up from that role to act as the flamboyant, garish, and utterly unforgettable Harry in black comedy A Bigger Splash which is out in cinemas now.

A Bigger Splash revolves around Marianne and Paul, a rock-star and filmmaker couple who vacate to a remote Italian island while she rests her voice following an operation on her larynx. Their idyllic holiday is interrupted when old flame and manager Harry and his mysterious daughter Penelope appear. With the sun and booze sending passions soaring, the foursome are sent on a whirlwind of jealousy and danger! Can they all survive the holiday?

Directed by Italian filmmaker Luca Guadagnino, most famously known for Melissa. P, A Bigger Splash offers a tantalising look at the intricacies of love, lust, and loss. With the heat of the Island playing catalysts to the events, each of the four play games with one another to entice and ensnare. Not any character is absolved in the somewhat brutish atmosphere that comes in long drawn silences and sudden small acts of petty vengeance. As the statuses of the quartet become misaligned, the addiction of one another holds the viewer in the precipice of raw and undone craving that makes A Bigger Splash such an evocative watch.

At the centre of the tragic and sublime film are the formidable Tilda Swinton, the ever brilliant Mattias Schoenaerts, and upcoming Dakota Johnson. Johnson incidentally, proved that her role in 50 Shades of Grey was merely that – a role. She has more talent than the cardboard cut-out one she was given and transcends her as a reservedly speaking manipulator whose presence causes much unease. As for Swinton, the actress is truly our greatest and the fact she can perform so much emotion anguish here, barely uttering a sound, solidifies her talent. Schoenaerts is also phenomenal as always.

But really, this is Fienne’s is film. To highlight his exuberant skill that dives into the murky waters of his character, there is one scene that has you toppling down the eyes of a broken man. Harry, whose tops remain open to bear his chest, plays The Rolling Stones’ Emotional Rescue (fitting his motives quite well too). At first it is humorous but embarrassing Dad dancing. As he twirls out of the villa, his eyes become large and you become more aware of the suffering beneath them – a once great man with everything scattered in his energy and mind. It’s an evocative, turbulent, and compelling performance from an actor who – come on – deserves an Academy Award now.

A Bigger Splash is populated by sublime imagery as the haze of the island becomes a pulse through each of our characters and their ultimate un-doings. Though the narrative falls off balance in the final act, never regaining its true decadent charms of the first half, this is still an enthralling and unquestionably brilliant film.


East End Film Festival: Dead Slow Ahead – Review

When watching a documentary audiences can take what is before them as undisputed truth. A documentary is still a piece of film. Its carries the thoughts, feelings, and even bias of its makers. A stylized documentary can sometime feel strange to an audience yet in documentary/drama Dead Slow Ahead, the director/writer has created a narrative from astounding visuals.

Dead Slow Ahead, despite its horror title, is a documentary set upon a freight boat. The camera watches the work and life of the crew on board as the vessel makes its way around the world. The crew on board become ever more dominated and consumed by the machinery creating an atmospheric piece of film.

The Spanish documentary drama is written and directed by Mauro Herce in his directorial debut. Him and his sound engineer lived for almost three months upon the vessel and captured life aboard for its crew. Yet the film goes beyond merely just observation of workers. Herce has used the visuals to create a concept within the film.

Instead of following a narrative structure or style, the film watches the freight drift on. Different locations and scenes play out as the crew go on with their work and every place is given long beautifully capture scenic shots, from deserted ice lands to cloud filled ocean views.

Only towards the end do any of the crew talk, either together at social gathering or more commonly on the phone to their loved ones.

The film is a comment on post-industrial society, from machinery aiding our production to taking the human place in the line.  The boat controlled and manned by machines. The crew are filmed in a way that makes them feel consumed by the freight around them, calling to the outside world with less of a response as time goes on.

The approach that has been taken with this film is by far its most interesting trait. The film uses elements of horror, sci-fi and film noir in its aesthetic. The camera has an almost pursuing approach to its visuals. It bends and swerves as if following an unseen subject creating edges and angels. The industrial noises of machinery and waves create a palpable heartbeat that builds creating anticipation then suddenly stopping.

The shots are often lit with green and red, feeling as if an alien abduction is imminent at any time. Finally smoke and shadows from the running machinery is highlighted in the camera work giving the film it;s noir feel.

Despite the film’s comment and beautiful visuals it lacks an emotional attachment. This can mainly be attributed to its lack of characters. The minimal human presence can be seen as a way to demonstrate the machinery taking over message but it also staggers the film as a whole. Titanic this isn’t but the tone and imagery create a piercing experience if lacking emotional connection.

Visually astounding yet emotionally non-engaging, the films lack of human characters leaves a void in this visceral and beautifully shot piece.


Happy 30th Birthday Labyrinth!

Labyrinth turns 30 today”

I’ll give you some time to feel a little old.


As far as the epitome of childhood movies goes, this great fete of imagination from the brilliant Jim Henson (creator of The Muppets and similar puppet characters for those who have no idea how to get to Sesame Street) is on the top of most lists. On every Christmas and always playing in my house (the lead was called Sarah, it was a thing I obsessed over,) it is actually surprising that Labyrinth bombed on box office release. It was the last feature film Henson did and the low commercial success of the movie actually demoralized him. This is a shame because if he were here today and saw the masses of people who love this movie, the constant showings at The Prince Charles Cinema, and the legacy it has left, he would proud.

Labyrinth stars David Bowie, his crotch, and Jennifer Connelly. When Sarah (Connelly) is scorned by her stepmother and her favourite toy is stolen by her baby brother Toby, Sarah foolishly wishes for the goblins to take her away. When Jareth (Bowie and crotch,) the Goblin King appears, and steals Toby, he tells Sarah she has 13 hours to solve his Labyrinth otherwise Toby will be lost forever. Racing against time Sarah, along with a whole host of new friends, must solve the riddles and thwart Jareth.

It actually hurts that this amazing fantasy adventure didn’t appeal to the eighties crowd who liked similar film such as Never Ending Story. The creatures that his workshop created were fantastic puppets that were brilliantly crafted and made. Hoggle, voiced by son Brian Hansen, is a great anti-friend who grumbles and groans through Sarah’s journey. There is also Sir Didymus, the crazy fox knight, played by Rob Muek of Gonzo fame. There is a whole host of beasts and puppeteers who collaborate on this purely innocent adventure. While this exclusive cast of puppets bar Bowie and Connelly may have been difficult for the humans to act with, it has left behind an incredible film that sparks the careless dreaming of the young and old.

While Henson’s genius would be enough to satisfy fans, added into the mix is David Bowie’s fantastic soundtrack from the chilling “Underground” to the gleeful “Magic Dance.” This incredible music is awash with toe tapping songs that Disney wished it made (and now owns.) Plus you have the brilliant Pythoner Terry Jones writing the screenplay so the comedy is great for adults and children. There are many treats for cinema fans and art fans, including mazes inspired by paintings and homage’s to the likes of The Wizard of Oz. It has everything you could ever need from a movie.

Labyrinth is that perfect combination for a fantasy movie. It is awash with daring scenes, riddles and puzzles, battles with monsters, new friendships, a scary villain and a journey unlike any other. With wide eyed wonder, you will be amazed at the adventure and follow the path that Sarah takes. Boasting the first ever realistic CGI animal (the barn owl,) Labyrinth is a breath taking technical movie that has so much heart. Standing strong today, Labyrinth is an outstanding film that finally has the praise and acclaim it so rightfully deserves.

So come see the magic dance and say “ello” to Labyrinth


Morgan – Brand New Trailer!

About a month ago, I explained that the previous Morgan trailer utterly freaked me out. The elusive and spooky sci-fi film had a chilling trailer, a wondrous cast, and a premise so unknown that it made it more weird and strange.

Yeah, well – that’s all been ruined.

The no-longer-mysterious film revolves around a young woman who is found after an accident and is seemingly a childlike human. However, there is something more sinister going on.

Why? Why show us her creation? Why tell us about her background? Why couldn’t you keep it a terrifying secret? That would’ve been so much better.


Star Trek Beyond – Final Trailer!

When it comes to summer blockbusters, there is a whole bunch to get excited for. Suicide Squad, The BFG, Ghostbusters amongst the season’s biggest releases. But, let’s not forget about Star Trek Beyond because, let’s face it, we all kind of did.

Star Trek Beyond sees director Justin Lin take the director’s chair as Kirk and his crew face their biggest challenge yet. As they explore unchartered space, they encounter a mysterious new enemy who puts everything they stand for to test.

There is a tender haze of sadness surrounding the film as we remember the tragic loss of Anton Yelchin and this surely looks to immortalise his memory.  The latest trailer – as well as Rihanna’s sci-fi single for the film Sledgehammer – has much more of an epic grandiose element to this film, causing ripples of goose-bumps down your spine.

What do you think?


American Pastoral – Brand New Trailer!

When actors turn directors, there is some trepidation. Just because you’ve starred in films, doesn’t mean you can make them. There are different levels of results: the good, the bad, and the downright ugly. Ewan McGregor adds himself to the list of actors turned filmmakers and he is tackling Philip Roth novel American Pastoral.

The film revolves around family who are torn apart when their daughter disappears after she is accused of committing a violent act…

Starring Dakota Fanning, Jennifer Connelly, Uzo Aduba, and more, McGregor’s outing behind the camera looks intriguing enough. But would it be good?