The Children Act – Brand New Trailer!

Stanley Tucci and Emma Thompson play a married couple in moving drama The Children Act.

Oh, sorry, do you want more than that delicious and exciting pairing?

OK. Based on a book by Ian McEwan (Atonement, On Chesil Beach,) The Children Act revolves around a judge who has to decided on a case of a young man who needs a blood transfusion but his parents are Jehovah’s Witnesses and it’s against their religion. At the same time, the judge has to deal with her crumbling marriage.

With what looks to be one of Emma Thompson’s greatest performances, we’re excited to see where this film goes. It also stars Dunkirk’s Fionn Whitehead so that’s very exciting. What do you think?

The Children Act is out 24th August! 

The Little Stranger – Brand New Trailer!

Lenny Abrahamson reunites with Domnhall Gleeson (who he worked with on Frank) on the sinister yet devilishly exciting ghostly chiller The Little Stranger. 

The film revolves around a doctor who revists an allusive manor house prominant in his mind to take care for a shell-shocked patient.

With Charlotte Rampling, Ruth Wilson, and Will Poulter in tow (and the trailer already containing one of the best bits of music I’ve heard in a film yet,) The Little Stranger looks utterly amazing. What do you think?

The Little Stranger is out later this year! 

Loveless – Review

How can a mother stop loving her child? Let’s imagine. The child is born, a miracle: fingers, toes, senses – all. Green poop? Let’s forget about the first excretion. The babe takes milk – ouch, steady. The crying, the nappy changes, the feeding – can someone please help? The father dotes but has to go to work. The child’s grandmother is severe in disapproval. She never liked the father. Her only daughter could have married better. The mother recovers her shapeliness – still beautiful. But the crying, the potty training, feeding, walking – where has baby got to? Then the crying again – an accident. Mother searches for a towel to stem the bleeding. She takes the best one – ruined. She has been brought to this. Suddenly the father is interested. Lifting him up, carrying him on his shoulders. ‘He never shows such affection with me,’ she thinks. Adult talk: no promotion. The mother wants to live better; she’s fed up of this apartment. The father’s pained face: he’s trying. The child breaks a plate. It’s an accident. The mother counts the crockery, a wedding gift depleted by ignorance. The boy goes to school. Mother looks at herself in the mirror – still beautiful. She attracts attention, warmth. Her child is an embarrassment. She wants to be seen for herself. She takes a lover who showers her with compliments, real food and company. There is a world outside her home and she can taste it. She married too soon, she did everything too soon. The child is a reminder. The father discovers her infidelity and leaves. He seeks solace with another woman in another cramped apartment. Before long he is expecting another baby. Why can’t he take the boy? ‘A boy deserves to be with his mother.’ Impasse: the mother hates the father. She looks at the boy, the reminder of the life she doesn’t want. The boy understands everything. Away from the other boys at school, relieved of the pretence of bravado, he starts to cry.

This, with some embellishment, is the starting point of Loveless (Нелюбовь) a film co-written and directed by Andrey Zvyagintsev (The Return, Elena, Leviathan) who is Russia’s most internationally acclaimed chronicler of contemporary urban woe. The film is set before the Russian intervention in Ukraine, before the mother nation shows its scrupulous concern for the peoples of Donbas, who, owing to the inconvenience of geography, experience the neglect of care that only a military intervention can provide.

Alexey (Matvey Novikov) is a twelve year old boy who wants a home, not a room, not a mother cursing him, ordering him, full of indignation and barely suppressed regret. His mother Zhenya (Maryana Spivak) has lost of the softness of discourse with the two men who share her patronymic. But at least the apartment will be sold and her connection with the boy’s father, Boris (Aleksey Rozin) will be severed. Only one day the boy disappears and the warring couple are reunited in anxiety and recrimination, searching with as much feeling as they can muster for the missing child.

Zvyagintsev has little sympathy for Zhenya, except when we meet the aforementioned maternal grandmother in the hope that young Alexey is somehow with her. Her bitterness, accompanied by a barking dog – a metaphor for inchoate discontent – speaks volumes. Boris has to act the happily married man for the sake of getting on in his company; divorced men don’t fit in. Society in modern Russia denies the possibility of personal disappointment, emerging alienation, bad choices fuelled by flickers of desire. Every attempt to find the boy is punctuated by argument – at one point, on a quiet country road, Boris orders Zhenya out of the car. Only the volunteer services can help in the search, though there is something perfunctory about their stop-start efforts – they are not conducted out of care.

Like many women in the film, Zhenya’s eyes are locked on her mobile phone. Instead of some issues being more important than others, each post on her twitter feed somehow merits more attention than her own flesh and blood. Zvyagintsev discounts any motion that Zhenya is suffering from mental illness – bipolarity and the like. Instead, he attacks attention-sucking social media, observing that narcissism and not empathy has won.

With characters that are hard to like, it is surprising to discover that sex scenes involving Zhenya and her wealthy lover offer some erotic pleasure. It is the one time that the (male, heterosexual) viewer feels something. Then with a start it occurs to you: you experience most pleasure watching others having sex only when you don’t care about them. The film doesn’t make us experience guilt about feeling little for the characters. Rather it actually compensates for our lack of empathy by giving us another pleasure. In this sense, Loveless is not a condemnation of a world without warm or investment in others, warts and all; instead, it shows us how it is possible to live without love through other sensory gratifications.

There is a coda, a few years on, in which the military intervention in Ukraine is observed by desensitised characters. We are invited to reflect upon our own distance from the sufferings of others, to consider whether it is enough to be a consumer taking what is available to us or whether we should make choices that could affect – for the better – the world in the future. I suspect that Zvyagintsev, in his sincere appeal for compassion, is preaching to the compassionate and that if he really wants to shake the unfeeling out of their torpor, he ought to give them something to worry about.

Loveless is out on DVD & Blu-Ray now! 

Black Panther – Review

Momentous films don’t come around that often.

Sure. You have your big films, you have your game-changers, and you have your big blockbusters. But momentous? That’s saved for truly special films such as Star Wars or Psycho. Movies that bound into our lives and change our whole existence. This may happen on a smaller scale for your intimate personal films but only a few can ricochet through the whole world and touch us all. Important, necessary, and just that damn good – momentous films don’t come around that often.

Black Panther is a momentous film.

A black led superhero film with a black led crew behind is making waves and for all the right reasons. It is an astonishing earthquake of a film and we’re still feeling the reverberations.

Written and directed by Ryan Coogler, Black Panther tells us a story of the King of Wakanda we first met in Civil War – T’Challa. Ascending the throne after the death of his father, T’Challa is prepared to take on the responsibilities. However, he is about to be usurped by Eric Killmonger, a mysterious threat wishing to take over Wakanda. Can T’Challa protect his people whilst also keeping his country a secret from the rest of the world?

Ryan Coogler has truly brought to life the wonderful World of Wakanda to the big screen and brought with it instantaneous characters that you’ll fall in love with, a story filled with depth, action, and hilarity, and phenomenal action. Coogler is an intense director who’s work here embellishes the glorious world of this character we’ve been so eager to see.

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Academy award nominated cinematographer Rachel Morrison’s eye for colour enriches backdrops and set pieces with vibrancy.  Though at times the CGI feels too lucid and at times wonky to fit into this spectrum filled word, the screen is filled wonderfully with layers of liveliness and vigour. The world of Wakanda, a technologically advanced country in Africa, is awe-inspiring. A jaw-dropping feast of intellect, tradition, and love. It’s a wonderful superhero film that feels alarmingly intimate and gigantic at the same time. You’re jaw will drop at as T’Challa and co race through the streets of South Korea whilst you’ll cry for the characters in emotive motives. Yes, including villain Eric Killmonger. It’s an amazing accomplishment here, where all elements fuse together to create a cinematic treat.

Chadwick Boseman has eased happily into the titular role and his work here is great. Sadly though, he is outshone by other members of the cast such as Letitia Wright as T’Challa’s sister Shuri. Only 16, Shuri is an accomplished scientist who is often told to be smarter than Tony Stark. She’s key to developing the country  but it’s Wright’s energy and emotion that develops this film further, stealing the scenes and best lines.

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It’s not just Shuri though, the women here are legendary. Be prepared to not only fall in love with the Dora Milaje, a team of warriors sworn to protect the throne, but also want to be them. Lead by Dania Gurira’s Okoye, they are a force to be reckoned with (Okoye, herself, delivering some of the most stand out scenes.) Lupita Nyong’o’s Nakia could’ve easily been discarded as a love interest, with  a few lines and a worried stare. But she is a special forces operative with her own skills and is pivotal to the progression of the story. Angela Bassett plays T’Challa’s mother Ramonda and is predictably a fantastic element.

Eric Killmonger is an interesting villain, whose cause is noble but methods sketchy. Michael B. Jordan is skilled at balancing the two elements of this soldier wishing to takeover Wakanda. His motives are skewered by his anger which makes him vulnerable. Jordan accomplishes this making him one of Marvel’s top tier antagonists.

Other cast members worth mentioning are Sterling K. Brown, Daniel Kaluuya, Forrest Whittaker, Martin Freeman, Andy Serkis, and a brilliant turn by Winston Duke (who has a vast career in front of him). In fact, not one cast member puts a step wrong and have their moment to shine.

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The biggest theme of the film is heritage; whether that was stolen from a character or it helped shape another, the ancestry of Africa is intricately weaved into the plot. Even in the details, the costuming, and the tribes, it is a celebration of black culture.

Black Panther also scorns colonisation and slavery, the tremors of the story are impacting . Look, I’m going to level with you: This theme is going to piss off a certain group of people – you know the ones – and maybe even the people you thought were on the level. Black Panther is not going to pander to you – but it is going to help you. See there is a massive message about having history shape you but also knowing that it does not define you. You have to own the mistakes of the past. You have to know that it is a part of your culture because that is the only way you can move past it. That’s your takeaway from Black Panther.

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This is a repeat viewing film. A bombastic and exhilarating action marvel that has key core messages, developed characters all over the place, and amazing visuals. This is all shelled with Kendrick Lamar’s soundtrack and Ludwig Goransson’s score. The film is – ugh – I’ve run out of synonyms: Watch and see it in it all it’s royal glory.

It’s been bounced around that Black Panther is unapologetically black. Damn straight it is.

It is unapologetically fierce, unapologetically entertaining, and absolutely unapologetically black.

Black Panther is on DVD & Blu-Ray now!