The Ice King – Review

by Charlotte Harrison

The Ice King tells the bittersweet story of John Curry – a man regarded as the greatest ice skater of all time yet one who has also been forgotten by time. He turned a much-relegated sport into an event watched by millions across the country and across the world. Influenced by ballet and modern dance, each of his performances was a piece of art. At the 1976 Winter Olympics in Austria he was the flag bearer for the UK, bringing back a Gold medal for singles skating then later winning the BBC sports personality of the year. Yet these successes brought Curry little happiness.

Early on in the documentary someone who knew Curry describes how ‘skating became the escape’. It’s easy to see why. Intimate family photos, accompanied by letters he sent & received, paint the portrait of a difficult childhood. Growing up in a working class household in Birmingham he had a difficult relationship with his father. His father disapproved of boys dancing so 12 year-old John went for figure skating lessons instead. His talent was obvious from the outset but he was unable to do it full time for financial reasons, in time he gained loyal patrons leading him onto international acclaim & admiration.

In the course of 89 minutes we get an overview of Curry, from starting to skate to his death from AIDS aged 44. A short life depicted in a short amount of time inevitably means that some aspects of a life get more focus than others, occasionally things get said that attract our curiosity yet don’t get developed. The unhappiness he felt throughout his life is stated by all of the documentary participants; the causes are speculated upon but never fully devilled into. Its human nature to want answers, but such is the way of anything to do with mental health – we can only ever guess at how others are feeling. Only the individual going through the experience can actually know. The people who knew him saw him as a walking contrast – charming yet brutal, distant yet needy, ambitious yet self-destructive.

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Curry isn’t hear to explain how he felt at certain times or why he felt that way, but what he has done is left us with a legacy that deserves more attention than it currently receives. The Ice King compiles his letters (read oh-so-soothingly by Freddie Fox), audio of a whole range of interviews past & present and rare archive footage of Curry skating. There’s long forgotten performances that were televised and even fan footage that has lasted the tale of time.

And what footage it is to behold. Curry skated with sheer, unadulterated elegance; every movement precise and superbly controlled; the epitome of elegant power. Off the ice he also made history, when shortly before the 1976 Winter Olympics he was outed by the press as being gay – at a time when homosexuality was not fully legal.

Thanks to this sharing of memories Curry’s legacy should once more become part of the cultural landscape once more, earning him the reverence he fully deserves.

The Ice King is out on DVD & Blu-Ray now! 

Looking Back…Weekend (2011)

To celebrate the release of Andrew Haigh’s Lean on Pete, we’re looking at his seminal piece, Weekend.

Have you ever had one of those one night stands? Yes, one night stands. Don’t worry, we are all adults here. A lot of us can put our hands up and say “I’ve slept with a stranger for one night for sexual pleasure because I can.” As long as it is safe and consensual, there is no qualm. From time to time, most of us would have picked up a stranger on a night out, spent a night fucking then dissolved into an awkward morning after never to see them again. But have you ever had one of those one night stands? That is just a little bit more is going on despite it being fleeting.

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Well, that is what 2011’s Weekend centres on. Except its beautiful, outstanding and extremely realistic.

It’s Friday night in Nottingham and Russell leaves his friends party early. On the way home from work, he decides that the night isn’t officially over and heads to the local bar for some drinking, dancing and drugs. To save him from a wanton admirer, he meets Glen. The pair share a passionate night together and a morning after. However, as their affections start to develop, Russell finds out that Glen is leaving to move to America. But the pair soon embark on a loving, caring and strong relationship for the weekend.

This is one of those movies where the dynamics and chemistry between the pair are vital. Luckily, this film has bouts of it. The two leads, Tom Cullen and Chris New wrap their talents around the incredible script by director Andrew Haigh. Portraying two very different people, the pragmatic and the opinionated, Glen and Russell are so intriguing and highly perceptive of their situation. But they aren’t afraid to oppose one another, argue and fall for one another over such a short amount of time. Oozing with a beautiful script and improvision, Cullen and New are entirely fantastic together. The whole relationship, while running out of time, is so delightful and entrancing to watch, with two leads as likeable as they come despite their many faults (you know, humans.)

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Haigh has created an iconic movie that is so real. There isn’t a stereotype here or a trope,  you are just watching two people actually fall for one another. With an eye for the beautiful set up, Haigh presents an intelligent movie that explores momentary lust, long lasting love and just exactly how a couple of days can mean something to someone. Much of the drama is confined to the relationship and how the pair get to know one another. Weekend is enjoyable and incredible watch that smartly overseas the tentative seas of dating.

Lean on Pete is out in cinemas now! 

Batman Ninja – Brand New Featurette!

The elusive caped crusader has had a lot of conceptions since DC brought him to life . Now Batman is blending with anime in brand new feature film Batman Ninja.

The film revolves around Batman being sent through the ages thanks to an device and having to battle his mortal enemies.

The movie looks inventive enough with stellar animation. What do you think?

Batman Ninja is out on DVD & Blu-Ray on 14th May! 

Robin Hood – Brand New Trailer!

The legend of Robin Hood, a fictional hero who stole from the rich to give to the poor, has been portrayed on the big screen for a very, very long time. Anyway, we’re getting another conception this year with Jamie Foxx, Jamie Dornan, and Taron Egerton!

The film revolves around a younger Hood who tries to thwart evil doing.

Look, this is going to cheesy and action-packed as fuck but we’re so excited about Taron Egerton taking the lead here that we may have just peed a little. What do you think?

Robin Hood is out later this year! 

Unpopped Kernels: Princess Cyd (2017)

Dear regular film viewer.

Do you appreciate lovely things? You know what I mean; those types of movies where the a warm pit of emotion curls within your stomach and crawls across your skin like a adoring cinematic embrace. Through the gritty action flicks, the grittier dramas, and just the grit, occasionally films come around that butterfly within you and make you soar. A lot of these are beautiful LGBT dramas. From God’s Own Country to Love, Simon, there are loads of sweetly intense movies, excavating everything we adore about love, age, and relationships.

Nestled in the heart of Netflix is an impressive coming of age story that is set to pour gooey loveliness into your soul. And that film is Princess Cyd. 

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Directed by Stephen Cone, this dreamily filmed drama is set in the beating heart of Chicago. The movie revolves around the titular niece who goes to visited her somewhat estranged aunt Miranda on the whim of her depressed father, looking for colleges and to explore opportunities in the city. Cyd and her aunt Miranda are different free spirits yet in very different ways; the former is an exuberant confident teen who strives to live a full life whereas successful writer Miranda has curved into a quieter life of books, authors, poetry, and education. Whilst the pair are at odds with one another, the friction is set to open them both up to different view points.

This unassuming and quiet film is a hotbed of passionate emotions and an impeccable character study on both the women. Looking at the pair from different sides, both rocked by a tragedy, the movie follows them as they learn from one another. Perhaps to be a little freer from ones insecurities, perhaps to be a little bit more empathetic to those living a different lifestyle, but together they’ll find an common ground – an anchor in which their relationship can float. It is a movie teaming with the shifts, telling us that, no matter what age, you can still learn and you can most definitely learn from those younger than you as well as older. Played beautifully well by Jessie Pinnick (Cyd) and Rebecca Spence (Miranda,) the movies core base is an exceptional one as Cone delicately weaves his script through sentiment, growth, and sexuality.

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The haze of how it is shot is truly breath-taking too. The soft tones of the Chicago Summer broods alongside these women as they find their own voice and current. Zoe White brings out the pinkness of Cyd’s world and the city as well as a pastel palette for the story. It works well, matching the laziness of a summer away vibe. Princess Cyd us luscious to look at, teaming with gorgeous beauty.

Princess Cyd feels real, grounded in it’s well developed women and absolutely impeccable sexual awakening. There is never a massive judgement on the pair as a viewer and you never feel pulled between them. This is an honest and open film depicting how one can still change and adapt to different situations.

On a final note, there is an absolutely wonderful “soiree” here where Miranda’s writing friends come to her house to read favourite passages and scriptures over wine, food, and conversation. It turns to sexuality where admittance is met with acceptance in barely a shoulder shrug and a smile. It is absolutely my favourite party sequence in any movie ever.

Princess Cyd is available on Netflix. 

McQueen – Brand New Trailer!

The genius of Alexander McQueen still lives on in our society years after his sudden and tragic death.

His work inspired many and his contributions to fashion will never be forgotten. To celebrate his life and work, there’s a brand new documentary cultivated from his friends, family, and colleagues. Titled McQueen, this is an intimate picture of the artist.

Displaying his work, his troubles, and his world, this is going to be an unforgettable documentary. What do you think?

McQueen is out 8th May!