Pet “Are You Following Me?” – Brand New Clip!

Unrequited love is a staple of romantic stories through all forms of media, but it’s a very hard line to toe. If you go too far, you end up creating a character with a creepy obsession with their love interest which changes the genre completely and creates a tense thriller/horror which looks into the psyche of the stalker and their victim.

This is the case with Pet, especially the latest clip, which sees Dominic Monaghan’s character admitting his affections and actions to his unwitting love interest (played by Ksenia Solo.)

The scene is riddled with an ambient sense of dread, which is only dampened by the poorly levelled dialogue coming from the actors, which makes them seem like they are sitting next to one another, when in reality, they are across the room. It’s not enough to damage the clip in its entirety, but it is an annoyance until the two confront each other.

Pet obviously has the potential to be a wonderfully dark and intense film, here’s hoping it can live up to it.

Pet is out March 13th!

The White King – Review

by Ren Zelen

In The White King, directors Alex Helfrecht and Jorg Tittel cleverly introduce the viewer to the world in which their tale is set by means of a beautiful animated exposition during the beginning credits. We then enter the film with some background knowledge of what we are dealing with – a harsh, rural, dystopian society, created by a mythical ‘hero’ whose immense statue looks down over ‘the Homeland’.

The White King is adapted from a series of short stories by the Romanian novelist György Dragomán, influenced by his experience growing up under Ceausescu’s regime. It tells the story of Djata (Lorenzo Allchurch) – a 12-year-old boy living a meagre, stripped-down existence in a rural totalitarian society.

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Despite the restrictions of his environment he is happy with his doting parents, until his simple life is shattered when his loving father Peter (Ross Partridge) is abruptly taken away.  Djata’s mother Hannah (Agness Deyn) pretends that his father is temporarily working elsewhere because of his particular expertise, but of course in reality, he has been taken to a brutal prison camp as reprisal for speaking out as a political dissident.

As further punishment for his father’s disobedience, the authorities make sure that Djata and his mother Hannah are labelled as traitors within the local community and deprived of basic privileges. As they strive to survive against mounting difficulties in a bleak environment, they seek answers from Peter’s parents, (Jonathan Pryce and Fiona Shaw) who remain loyal to the regime and estranged from Hannah, and help from a privileged and ruthless local general (Greta Scacchi).

It may appear that there are few narrative threads that unify the events of the movie, but this may be down to the episodic nature of the source material. Balancing a number of themes certainly presents a challenge to the filmmakers.

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The glue that holds the film together is Djata’s evolving political consciousness and his overwhelming belief in his father’s goodness and determination to see him again. He strives to this end with a courage and ingenuity that see him pushing back against the restrictions of the regime. The success of this portrayal is due in no small part to a wonderful performance by the young Lorenzo Allchurch as Djata, whose slow-burning grief and anger are compelling to watch.

Djata’s mother played by Agyness Deyn, is also affecting in her desperate efforts and damaged defiance. Respected veteran thespians Jonathan Pryce and Fiona Shaw, are predictably excellent as the grandparents, torn by their love for their son and grandson, but trapped in their privileged lifestyle as staunch supporters of the regime.

Husband and wife team Helfrecht and Tittel wisely concentrate on the human element, making the main basis of the story a relatable, personal narrative – a young boy’s desperation to be reunited with his father, and allowing the actors to make the plot more character driven. The aesthetic is also satisfying as the setting is well used and the film presents good cinematography, great characterisation, and an atmospheric score.

This is not a film offering stirring moments of heroic uprising. Unlike The Hunger Games and similar visions of young people in a dystopian future, The White King attempts no grand gestures of defiance that rally the people to a cause or to rebellion – it gives no easy answers to the threat of fascism or totalitarianism, and the movie is all the more poignant because of it. This is the story of everyday life under a regime of indoctrination and oppression – heart-breaking, compelling, and timely.

The White King is out in cinemas now and out on Digital

The Essentials: Sir John Hurt

In our lifetimes, we see the birth and deaths of many a legendary career on the silver screen. 2016 was a particularly brutal year for film fans who saw the loss of many a brilliant film star including Carrie Fisher, Alan Rickman, and Zsa Zsa Gabor. 2017 has already claimed many prominent names already. This one hit us like a massive weight. The versatile and talented actor John Hurt has passed away at the age of 77. His multi-decade career is full of brilliant performances from a variety of films, television shows, theatre productions and more!

Here is a list of recommended movies to watch.

Honourable Mentions  1984, 10 Rillington Place, Doctor Who, and the recent biopic Jackie 

Alien (1979)

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One of the earliest film roles, Hurt played Executive Officer Kane of the space merchant vessel Nostromo that has to make an emergency landing on a mysterious planet. Kane’s time on the ship comes to a gory end when the alien he was infected with burst forth from his chest, killing him. Even in his youth, Hurt’s acting talent is ever present in his performance but it is only a mere glimmer of what to come.

V For Vendetta (2005)

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The film adaptation of the comic of the same name, this is the story of a mysterious freedom fighter in the midst of a dystopian, tyrannical future Britain. Hurt plays the overlord figure High Chancellor Adam Sutler, a character that is a stark opposite to his role in 1984. His portrayal of the grumpy, authoritarian man so corrupted he’s brainwashed himself of his own grandeur. Hurt embodies this malice and hypocrisy greatly.

Watership Down (1978)

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A list of John Hurt performances would not be complete without mentioning the animated adaptation of Richard Adams’s book Watership Down. A film that sees a warren of rabbits try to establish their own colony, Hurt voiced the young Hazel who matures and grows as the quest for freedom continues for his warren.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011)

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In this film adaptation of the television series, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is an espionage drama set during the Cold War. Hurt plays Control, the former head of Mi5 who resigned after the failure of a mission in Budapest. Hurt beautifully plays the tragic and frail man who had lost far more than his career. His chemistry with co-star Gary Oldman is spectacular to see on the screen and worth the watch on its own.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (2001)

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A role that is one of his best known in the millennial generation, Hurt’s turn as the wand-maker Garrick Olivander who sold Harry Potter his wand as he shops for his Hogwarts supplies. Hurt comes up again in his role but its his scene with the young and inexperienced wizard that is the most memorable. This worldly wise wizard is performed perfectly by a matured and seasoned actor.

Rest in Peace John Hurt

Hacksaw Ridge – Review

War is brutal. War has been brutal. War and killing is wrong. But there are soldiers who fought for their principles as well as helping the war effort. In Hacksaw Ridge, one such man is being immortalised on the big screen.

Hacksaw Ridge revolves around the true story of Desmond Doss who, during one of the bloodiest battles of WWII wound up saving the lives of 75 men without firing or carrying a gun. As the only soldier to tackle the front line without a weapon, Doss believed that killing was wrong and braved fire whilst tending to the wounded as a medic.

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Andrew Garfield is certainly having a fair stab at dramas since he was mercilessly ripped from the red and blue Spider-Man costume. Joking aside, the British/American actor has always been a fearless performer from his earnest depictions of suffering in the likes of Never Let Me Go to powerful and understandable desperation in 99 Homes. With luscious locks, Garfield has tackled both Martin Scorsese’s Christian epic Silence and this Gibson outing – earning himself an Academy Award nomination for his troubles. Now, whilst many will have questions over the boyish charms and wavering accents in both films, there is no doubt that Garfield dives into the depths of all of his characters and Hacksaw Ridge‘s Doss is no different. As a joyful young teen, resilient in his faith, Garfield has a child-like rambunctiousness about him that allows you to instantly connect with him. On the war-front, he is immersed in his convictions, willing himself to go on to save lives, and the result is a ferocious performance with a heart-wrenching finale that shakes through you.

There is something, however, ultimately lacking in Gibson’s movie. For a start, the story doesn’t get interesting until a good hour and a half into the film. There is a lot of build up that is tedious. Its linear narrative means the sheer emotional punch of Doss’ story is woefully in the latter half, creating this dull lead-up until the jaw-dropping spectacle.

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Now Gibson isn’t a director to shy away from graphic war sequences and he doesn’t lack in making us vividly aware of the grit and bloodshed that happened during WW2. To his credit, Gibson utilises this in an empathetic manner: We feel for these guys who are all gung-ho going into the war but are blistered by the gruesome reality of it. There are elements of camaraderie unlike any other when faced with your new friend literally blowing up beside you. The grim detailed and unflinching look at war will turn your stomach, especially when you realise that this is still happening all over the world.

It’s just – without Doss’ war story, it’s just an achingly familiar war movie. The first half is torturous whilst the other is tentative. There are also small details that really soil the film such as Teresa Palmer’s atrocious wig, cheesy dialogue sandwiched into baby-faces, and Vince Fucking Vaughn. There is just so much more that the film could’ve done but it seem determined to keep to a strict format that undersells Doss’ tale.

Sure, it’s worth a watch because of its nominations but at a 2 hour 20 minute runtime where only half of that is any good, you’ll wish for more.

Hacksaw Ridge is out in cinemas now!