East End Film Festival: The Solace of Orpheus – Review

I don’t mean to open this up being overtly critical but I think we need to talk about film festivals for a second. When a movie appears at a film festival, it automatically gets itself a certain prestigious reputation and many assume these are at the forefront of cinema. Especially if they are independent filmmakers, a promise of what’s to come.

However, as many regular film goer would know, this is a lie – there is a lot of drudgery to get through. While I don’t want to be pointing a specific finger, but The Solace of Orpheus is one of those very hard-slogs.

Directed by Niall Donegan and Elliot Vick, The Solace of Orpheus revolves around a couple who travel to the Mourne Mountains in Ireland. However, their trip is filled with many different obstacles as they begin to heal their relationship. Can they survive?

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The biggest issue I have with independent films such as The Solace of Orpheus is dialogue; how it is written and how it is delivered (and, also, if we are here, how it is recorded.) I am not saying it is the worse dialogue I’ve heard in my life but there were certainly parts where I wanted to tear off my cardigan and stuff it tightly into my ears. This is a massive issue because this is a film about relationships and the strain that can often occur. That means that 90% of the screen time is pure dialogue which is insufferable when it is forced out. There are the most awful pauses, some wickedly wooden deliveries, and absolute nonsense coming out of the characters lips. It’s contentious as to whether this stilted element of the movie is because the performers aren’t very good or the script-writer has absolutely no idea how to write people. What I am sure about is that everyone involved with this movie have probably never heard another human speak for an almighty long time before being thrust awkwardly onto the screen and asked to interact with one another.

I don’t mean to harp on about this but this is a particular issue that comes with romantic dramas. People talk in metaphors and interpretations that come across has glib and, yes, pretentious. It doesn’t feel realistic, just someone trying to be clever, and that stretches thinly across the films plot becoming irritating  in the process.

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Side note: This is definitely the quickest film I’ve seen to say it’s title.

This a low budget film and that shows. The cinematography, the hues of grey and green that typically sparkle with the Emerald Isles, making the film look beautiful despite there not being a grand amount of high-end technology being and scene set up here is wasted upon the uneasy performers and the appalling dialogue.

The Solace of Orpheus is a hard slog. It’s like trekking through a mountain in the rain and sleet, accompanied by the most bothersome person in the world. It’s wonderful to look at, but there is causes more exhaustion than excitement; more pain and poignancy; more boredom than beauty.

Unlike the titular character, this is definitely one film that you won’t look back on.

The Solace of Orpheus screens at East End Film Festival on 19th April 

The Best of…Dan Stevens

Dan Stevens.

More like Damn Stevens, amIright?

OK. I promise I won’t spend the entires piece objectifying Dan Stevens but we’ve all been caught in the spell of his blue eyes and dashing blue looks, so I’m sure it is understandable.

Anyway, the actor has had an interesting career, rising to become one of the most watchable performers on the big and little screen. Stevens first delighted on a little TV show called Downtown Abbey then completely levelled the fuck up to be an incomparable leading star.

Bit by bit, Dan Stevens becomes more of a household name and now he is back in his most accomplished role as David Haller in Legion (more on that later)

To celebrate it’s release of season 2, we’re looking at the best work of Dan Stevens.

Beauty and the Beast (2017)

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Now, truth be told, I really don’t like this adaptation of one of Disney’s most impressive fairy-tales. It would be mean to break down exactly what went wrong so instead, I want to look at all the good parts including Luke Evans as Gaston and Dan Stevens as the Beast (aka Prince Adam.) There is not an ounce of his presence that we don’t adore: The painted pretty prince at the beginning turning away the beggar woman, the hairy spectacle that transforms from kind to mean, and the changed man at the end. Stevens is pretty intricate in the role, albeit a little bit cheesy, but in the tender moments, he is truly endearing.

Plus, he had to wear this:

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And he also got to sing this:


Colossal (2017)

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Stevens only has a small role in
Colossal but it’s also an opportune moment for me to remind people to watch it and appreciate how wonderful it is. The movie starring Anne Hathaway revolves around ayoung, deadbeat woman Gloria who moves back to her hometown life  to start afresh. However, whilst she’s there, she accidentally conjures a kaiju in Seoul. However, she discovers that there may be a monster closer to home…

Dan Stevens is brief as Gloria’s boyfriend Tim who follows her, seeing the extent of her friend’s Oscar’s jealousy. Though not a solution for Gloria’s predicament, he is an upstanding guy who wishes her to change when she hits rock bottom.

Night at the Museum 3: Secret of the Tomb (2014)

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Have you ever watched a role and, despite it being absolutely ridiculous, the actor is clearly having the best time  (see: Luke Evans in Beauty and the Beast)?  That’s exactly what is happening for Dan Stevens in Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb.  Here, he plays a waxwork model of Lancelot sprung to life when Ben Stiller’s Larry Daley  heads over to the British Museum with the magical tablet. As a somewhat villain to the piece, Stevens encompasses the over-the-top Knight, unaware that he is merely a model.  The actor charges forth with a rambunctious energy that is ferociously entertaining. Loving every moment, there is some great comedy here including a lot of fun with a dangling prosthetic nose.

The Guest (2014)

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For those who weren’t dining in the Abbey, this is the film that made us all sit up and go, “Well, hello!”  Adam Wingard’s brilliant action thriller shone a new light for Stevens who remodelled himself into the star we now know.  Here he plays the epitomes guest David who tracks down a family of a fallen soldier comrade and begins to infiltrate himself into their lives.

Dan Stevens is able to hold a fantastic terror burning underneath the charm. He is instantly charismatic but broiling under the surface is this damage, this cold calculated twisted mind that makes a captivating antagonist.  At this point, I’d love to see him go full villain – A superhero fantasy mastermind perhaps?

Oh and…

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Thank you, The Guest, thank you.

Legion (2017 – )

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This TV show is the best addition to our lives last year. Never has a superhero fantasy romp been so enriched with stunning visuals, impeccable set pieces, a winding mysterious plot, and a tortured protagonist. Based on a series of X-Men comics, Legion revolves around David, a mutant who believes his powers are a mental illness and spends most of his time in the hospital. However, when a new patient arrives, he instantly falls in love with her but awakens something dark and terrible within him. Crafted by Noah Hawley and starring Stevens as the lead character, this is a genius conception pulled by the epic performances of Stevens, Aubrey Plaza, and Jermaine Clement. Combining incredible comedy with intense action, and a brilliant twist of the genre, Legion is a must-see and you’ll never listen to the Bolero in the same way.

We can’t wait to see what’s next for the show!

What’s your favourite Dan Stevens project?
Legion is available on FX later. 

East End Film Festival 2018: Super November – Review

Super November is directed by Douglas King, starring and written by his frequent collaborator Josie Long, and is the story of a politically charged librarian (Long) in Scotland who’s fallen head over heels for the seemingly perfect man Mikey (Sean Biggerstaff), to the annoyance of best friend and flat mate Darren (Darren Osbourne).  Six months later, the film swiftly moves on to tale of political turmoil as Josie and her friends are fighting to survive in a period of civil unrest.

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Super November is an admirable film; there are few films that dare to take such a jarring approach to it’s story telling, with a complete and utter tonal shift taking place halfway through the film. Long’s screenplay hits on all cylinders. Impressively, it maintains a consistent quality despite changing everything up half way through. The first half is an excellent depiction of a tender romance story that tackles the dream like, honeymoon stage of a relationship before the more upsetting reality of it sits in. The second half achieves an anxiety ridden struggle to make it through day to day life that is incredibly timely given the current political climate. That said, the film’s shift probably shouldn’t be so surprising because the politics are present for the entire run time; it’s not presented as a subtle undertone, but rather the centrepiece to many scenes and conversations and not in a way that feels shoehorned or heavy handed.

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What compliments Long’s screenplay is King’s direction, as well as the cinematography that takes a compassionate approach to the love story and a terrifying one to the political discourse; the use of close ups in it’s opening scene, simply focusing on Long and Biggerstaff’s faces as they get cutesy on a drunken date sets the tone for the rest of this story line, and consistently delivers on it’s ups and downs. When things take a turn, the use of camera becomes far more harsh to set in stone the bleak and harrowing nature of life in Scotland at this time. The film is incredibly well paced for it’s length; at a mere 80 minutes long, the film explores all of it’s themes and characters to a satisfying degree without leaving any stories unfulfilled but also not bogging it down with exposition. It gets it’s point across and doesn’t need to try any harder to achieve what it’s doing. On top of all that, the lead performance by Josie Long is simply intoxicating; the whole cast are great, with Darren Osbourne in particular giving a great performance, but this far and away Long’s film and she owns it entirely. She effortlessly makes you feel her glee, her passion, her turmoil, her depression and her fear to ensure that this entire journey is as effective as possible. The entire film is good, but it’s this starring role that seals the deal.

Super November is an ambitious and brave low budget feature with an exhilarating lead performance.

Super November screens at the East End Film Festival on 20th April 2018.

Hotel Artemis – Brand New Trailer!

Jodie Foster is one of the best actress and directors of all time. Now she returns in front of the camera for Hotel Artemis. 

The film revolves around The Nurse, the manager of Hotel Artemis which is a members-only hospital. The patients? Assassins, gunrunners, thieves, and gangsters. When she is threatened, she calls together all of her dangerous criminal pals to help her.

Like a seeming extension of John Wick, this looks to be a lot of fun. We’ll watch Jodie Foster in anything. What do you think?

Hotel Artemis is out 20th July 

Breaking In – Brand New Trailer!

A mother would do anything for her children. Even Breaking In…. that’s the premise for this latest action thriller.

The film revolves around Gabrielle Union as a woman whose children have been kidnapped. Held hostage in a house that has impenetrable security, she has to find a way to get to them…

It is always good to see Gabrielle Union on the big screen and this looks to be a lotta fun. What do you think?

Breaking In is out May 11th 

In Darkness – Brand New Trailer!

Natalie Dormer is such a brilliant actress. She can exude mystery, innocence, and more. So it’s exciting to see her lead this thriller In Darkness. 

The film revolves around blind pianist Sofia who overhears a struggle in the apartment above hers. Soon, she gets embroiled in the dark heart of corruption, violence, and blackmail.

This looks to be incredible and teaming with some great performances. What do you think?

In Darkness is out later this year!