Corporate Animals – Sundance Film Festival London Review

Movies can be many things. They can be life-changing dramas that go on to win Oscars. They could be epic blockbusters, seeing phenomenal fighting sequences on the big screen. They could be whacky comedies, stirring spectacles, the batshit insane, and the ones filled with pain.

Sometimes, they are just dumb, That’s Corporate Animals – a nasty little comedy “horror” that is both hilarious and silly and owns it completely.

Directed by Patrick Brice the film revolves around employees of the Incredible Edibles – America’s premiere provider of eatable cutlery. CEO Lucy is an egotistical manager who takes her long-suffering employees on a retreat through the caving systems of New Mexico. Once inside, a cave-in happens, killing their guide. The employees now have to survive which would be easier if they didn’t all hate each other. Cue hilarious antics, sexual tension, business revelations, and as Wikipedia calls it, “casual cannibalism.”

Directed Brice has gifted us with many funny and different movies such as found-footage horror Creep and, my favourite, The Overnight. Corporate Animals may just be his stupidest movie yet that works because it is as hilarious as it is bonkers. Unfortunately for our ragtag bunch of employees (who don’t necessarily like each other,) everything that’ll happen in a daring cave-in rescue, happens. And it is comical to watch it unfold in this, frankly, bizarre manner. There’s the tasteless and the downright stupid as well as the inspired and bloody brilliant.

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The acting talent is on-point: Demi Moore leads the cast as the insufferable Lucy whilst Jessica Williams and Karan Soni play her hapless assistants vying for a better position – with Soni being the true star here as he realises exactly the trauma Lucy has put them through. But the movie also features Ed Helms, Isiah Witlock Jr, Nasim Pedrad, and more who bring their own different energies from the deadpan to the whacky.

The film does dive into power-structures and how bosses can manipulate their employees into working hard, doing sexual favours, and also venturing down a great big cave. This iota of meaning does give some depth to our characters and why they may behave in a certain way. However, it isn’t fleshed out as well as it could be and with our gang of helpless lead characters, you can’t help but want more from them.

Still, Corporate Animals is a romp. Well – not a romp – because they are stuck underground, but an adventure nonetheless. It’s laugh out loud hilarious whilst also making your toes curl in the most exquisite and perfect way. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea but for fans of Brice’s previous work and those who can appreciate the outright perfect dumbness of this movie will absolutely adore it.

It is as though 127 Hours took one big bong hit and just kept going…Corporate Animals is a comedy delight!


Corporate Animals plays at Sundance Film Festival London 
30th May – 2 June 

The Death of Dick Long – Sundance Film Festival London Review

Swiss Army Man is arguably one of the best (and misunderstood) movies of 2016. The black comedy titled from directors’ Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert (collectively known as Daniels) revolved around Paul Dano’s castaway character who finds a dead body (played by Daniel Radcliffe in what is, again, arguably his best performance) and uses it to get off the island.  The movie is a splice of magical realism that balanced the downright bizarre with an absolute emotional journey, Swiss Army Man was a tender and hilarious film that most need to see.

I’m saying this because the minute Scheinert’s name appeared on the screen for The Death of Dick Long, I knew it was going to be an absolute fucked-up ride with emotional beats throughout.

Part sick comedy, part mystery, and part family drama, The Death of Dick Long revolves around three friends, Zeke, Earl, and the titular Dick who are in a band together. After practise, they decide to kick their drinking up a notch and things get a little weird.  Starring Michael Abbott Jr, Virigina Newcomb, and Andre Hyland,

The Death of Dick Long is a ultimately about two dopey men who have fucked up massively and continue to do so as they try to cover their tracks. The pair are a naïve and bumbling duo who come across as teenagers stuck in men’s bodies. There’s a scene where the flippant Earl has to lie to Dick’s suffering wife. The scene is treated as though Earl is a child who avoids eye contact because he knows he has messed up and it’s great to watch Andre Hyland play with this adolescent filming. It’s even set at a school! Their absolute travesty in shirking responsibility and their crimes make for a compelling watch.

What pulls Dick Long out of the ham-fisted slapstick territory is Scheinert’s ability to flesh these characters out, namely Zeke. Played greatly by Michael Abbot Jr, Zeke’s journey here is a complex one and yet surprisingly a tragic one too. The film may be about that moment allude to in the title but it’s also about Zeke accepting that parts of himself are just…fucked up. As he tries to hide it from his family – getting into all sorts of hi-jinks along the way. Not the most likeable of heroes, but certainly one that you empathise with most, Abbott is terrific alongside Scheinert’s confident direction.

The Death of Dick Long is picturesque too which does wonders in juxtaposing the tone. As mentioned before, this could easily have become silly. Yet linger shots that allow the actors to open up, the back-streets of small town Alabama, and reflections across a quiet lack leave inedible impressions.

With shades of The Coen Brothers, The Death of Dick Long is a reverent film that subverts its own twist. By piecing together beautiful cinematography and incredible performances from Michael Abbott Jr, Newcomb, and Andre Hyland, Scheinert’s film burns with an almost poetic heart.

Those special “things got weird” nights have happened to the best of us and what Scheinert’s does here is humanize the weird and whilst Dick Long is a funny watch, it is also an impossibly tragic one too.


The Death of Dick Long is playing at Sundance Film Festival London 30th May to 2 June! 

Thunder Road – Review

If you’ve been around Twitter for just one iota, you’d have seen Jim Cummings tweets. Not that it is a bad thing – it’s actually really inspiring. As an independent filmmaker, armed with a loads of determination and a vision, Jim Cummings speaks passionately about picking up the camera, gathering whoever can help, and producing your own work without the influence of studios and Hollywood.

Because that’s exactly what he did with Thunder Road. His hard-work and talent certainly pays off in this outstanding film.

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Based on his award-winning short of the same name, Cumming’s stars, writes, and directs Thunder Road. The movie, based off of a Bruce Springsteen song revolves around Jim, a police officer who is going through the worst of times. After delivering a misguided eulogy at his mother’s funeral, and attacking a man whilst trying to arrest him, those around him start to worry about his mental state. It worsens when his ex-wife Crystal serves him with divorce papers and battles with him over custody of their young daughter. On the verge of a break-down, can Jim pull himself together for those around him and most importantly, himself?

Acting, directing, writing, producing, and basically having a hand in every department, Jim Cummings has put his heart into Thunder Road and the pay-off is electric. His biggest strength here is certainly his performance. Especially at the beginning of the film – the epitomes breakdown at the funeral is simply breath-taking as Jim fluidly changes demeanour from trying to keep himself together to feeling the full impact of grief. His need to keep himself calm actually pushes him to breaking point and that is wonderfully fleshed out by Cummings.

Thunder Road is also greatly shot – bringing the aching and sad beauty of the small town life to the big screen.

Whilst there is a lot to enjoy with Thunder Road, the story lacks a certain cohesion that makes powerful emotional moments land. There’s a death and reaction that has no set-up or conversation. One can read that this is part of the chaotic nature of the breakdown and how life gives no rhyme to throwing obstacles in your path but at times it just didn’t land as perfectly as it should.

Image result for Thunder RoadThe biggest problem with this is that there is a huge story-line that could’ve been explored better and that’s the custody battle. Framing Jim’s funeral breakdown as the reason to take his child away from him and into the arms of a careless mother is a spectacular storyline that has a lot of potential. It just isn’t explored that well here, which is somewhat frustrating.

That being said Thunder Road is a terrific exercise in putting all your might behind a project and seeing it come into great fruition. Jim Cummings is an adept director and performer. When film hits the right spots, it is a visceral and poignant movie that delves deep into the psyche of our leading character. Darkly comic but also highly emotive, Thunder Road is a must-see watch.


Thunder Road is out 31st May! 

Blinded By The Light – Brand New Trailer!

Music can change, inspire, and evolve someone to the person. That’s the story in the glorious Blinded by the Light! 

Based on the memoirs of Sarfraz Manzoor’s, the film revolves around a teenager who finds his own voice through the words and music of Bruce Springsteen.

The trailer starts out quite uninteresting but when the music and the fantasy hits, it becomes terrific and is now one of my most anticipated movies.


Blinded by the Light is out August 9th 

Destroyer – Review

Nicole Kidman has had a long history of transforming in her roles. From her Academy Award winning performance in Hours saw her wear a crooked prosthetic nose to her scruffy look for The Paperboy,

Look at her gaunt and sunken face in the brittle Destroyer, it looks as though Kidman goes to great lengths for this gritty thriller.

Directed by Karyn Kusama, who also gave us phenomenal films such as  The Invitation and Jennifer’s Body, the film revolves around LAPD detective Erin Bell. When she was young, she was placed undercover with a gang of grungy bank thieves. However, the whole operation went haywire and now Erin suffers from the consequences. Alcoholic, gruff, and estranged from her daughter, when a murder arrives on her beat

Like a combination between True Detective and Point Break, Destroyer is a formidable piece of work that is anchored by Kidman’s gruelling performance. It really is the actress who keeps this piece moving and, in a similar way to Atomic Blonde, when she takes the punches, she truly takes the punches. She is affected by everything and Kidman makes us feel every bruise. There’s great support from Sebastian Stan and Tatiana Masalany but Bradley Whitford’s performance is the true scene-stealer here as a pompous and crooked lawyer.

Nicole Kidman in Destroyer

Toby Kebbell’s villainous Silas should stalk the whole film. His menace or craze should be haunting, just as Kidman’s Erin is stalked by the mere thought of him. But he is barely seen and underused (as per the norm in Kebbell’s portfolio.) With a ridiculous hairstyle reminiscent of a Charmed villain, It’s a shame because the film has to have Erin brood on a proper monster of a man but, instead, it never comes to fruition.

Karyn Kusama’s previous work The Invitation was an adept and different look at the horror/thriller genre but with Destroyer, it feels like a step back because there is a lack of originality. The story does twist in an unpredictable manner and is shot gorgeously but then falls back on usual clichés. For once it would be nice to see a film with a detective who isn’t gruff nor an alcoholic but still has the battle the seedy underground. The genre-tropes, much like the punches, are felt here.

It is the same with the music. Theodore Shapiro’s score is reminiscent of Johnny Greenwood’s for You Were Never Really Here which gives it this generic feel. Synth heavy night time scenes with some softer violins – it’s like composers have the archetype and it doesn’t feel original in Destroyer. That being said, the sound design is impeccable and every crunch of bone upon bone

Overall, the film is a good maudlin police drama where you are gripped enough to follow the story to the bitter end. There are some absolute gorgeous scenes here including a snow-scape that is one of the most beautiful shots I’ve seen. Kidman goes to massive depths in order to transform into this character and it shows here. Though the film may feel somewhat predictable in places, the emotional and physical heft that Kidman goes through is enough to keep you invested.


Destroyer is out on DVD & Blu-Ray now! 

Booksmart – Review

Occasionally there is a film that not only meets the hype surrounding it but surpasses it gleefully. Booksmart is one of those movies that has been receiving positive criticism all-around and it deserves every single iota of praise it is getting.

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Directed by Olivia Wilde, the film revolves around Amy and Molly, two over-achieving best friends who have been ousted to the outskirts of their school society because they are deemed pretentious. Not really bothered as they chose to focus on their academia than their social life. However, when they find out the students they considered burn-outs have also gotten into prestigious schools, they are aghast, realising that whilst they focused on school, they could have also been focussing on partying. So in a last ditch attempt before graduation, the pair decide to have one night of debauchery…

Booksmart is one of the funniest movies you’ll see all year. In fact, it’ll probably go down as one of the most hilarious teen movies of all-time. Happily rubbing shoulders with movies such as Superbad, Dazed and Confused, and American Graffiti –the “one night is all it takes” comedic outing is an energetic piece that is a riotous ride. Written by Emily Halpern, Sarah Haskins, Susanna Fogel, and Katie Silberman, the movie is a snappy and funny film that’ll have you laughing until you cry. With comedy ranging from the raunchy to the weird, Booksmart hits joke after joke.

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Which makes all the emotional moments hit harder. The script is succinct in delivering some teenage antics but also at bringing a soul to it. Amy and Molly fight, they feel sad, and their earnest need to finally let lose is unforgettable – especially for anyone who has felt ostracised by their peers. There are key messages of not losing your childhood and your fun in the pursuit of academia, learning to find balance in all areas. Not only that, but there is a stark message of discovering the person underneath the teenage stereotypes – from both the nerdy side and the burnout side.

Olivia Wilde’s confident directorial debut is rambunctious. Wilde commands the screen and in moments of heightened emotions, she fluidly manoeuvres the camera and scene so the beats truly sink in. Wilde may take the film to some superbly surreal places (a stop-motion scene is perhaps the only disjointed, but she knows how to bring it back down to earth.

Booksmart works best because our leading ladies are so incredible in their performances. Kaitlyn Dever as Amy and Beanie Feldstein as Molly flesh out these young women immensely. As actresses who have already proven their substantial talent in films such as Beautiful Boy and Lady Bird, giving them a whole film to showcase just how phenomenal they are is fantastic. And with a movie this genius? Downright amazing. Alone, they are amazing characters – intelligent, determined, strong-willed, and adoring of one another. Put them together and you’ve got one of cinemas greatest relationships on the big screen.

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The ensemble cast behind them are terrific too, from young actors such as Noah Galvin and Skyler Gisondo to more established folk such as Jason Sudeikis and Lisa Kudrow. But MVP of the whole movie goes to Billie Lourd who is the resident mysterious weirdo, popping up to give the girls advice.

Booksmart is a must-see. It’s a movie for the smart girls who are also the fun girls. It’s a film about accepting every part of you and being true to yourself. It’s also exceptionally funny.

A-pluses all around!


Booksmart is out Monday 27th May!