All posts by Cookie N Screen

Film Journalist, Director, Screenwriter, and Editor in Chief. Marketing Manager of Ritzy Picturehouse She'll excessively talk about Filth, how James McAvoy is the best actor of our generation, and how much she loves drag queen Katya Zamolodchikova.

Teen Spirit – Fragments Festival Review

By Sandra Collingham

It is a tale as old as time. A young pop starlet dreams of fame and fortune with their singing and are soon thrust into the terrifying world. We’ve seen it over and over again in movies such as the recent Oscar winner A Star Is Born, and before that the 1976 A Star Is Born, and before that Judy Garland’s A Star Is Born, and finally the 1934 movie A Star Is Born.

Anyway, regardless, pop stardom and ingénue fame have sparked many outings on the big screen. Teen Spirit is a film hoping to twist the narrative into a more contemporary feel with Elle Fanning leading the way.

Illustration for article titled Teen Spirit has plenty of it
Directed by Max Minghella (best known for his acting roles in movies such as Horns and 10 Years,) the film revolves around Violet, a shy Polish born British teenager who dreams of life beyond her small town. Wishing to pursue her passion of singing, relegated to wailing in pubs, Violet enters a singing contest with the help of an unlikely mentor. Soon she is thrust into the competition and the bright lights of the pop-world.

Set to an outrageously catchy soundtrack that ranges from Ellie Goulding to Sigrid, Teen Spirit is a vivid and energetic film that captures the ferocity of a pop-singing and being a teenager in equal measure. Shot by cinematographer Autumn Durald, famed for crafting music videos such as Janelle Monae and Haim, Teen Spirit has a definite look and feel that embellishes colour and crafts this modern vivid feel to the film. It’s a stunning watch that matches the confidence of Minghella’s direction and the catchiness of whatever tune is blasting out. It is somewhat of an addictive watch.

Elle Fanning perhaps acts her hardest and brushes off any naysayers she has about her acting talent. Here she imbues Violet with a vibrancy, a hopefulness and also has pipes to match. Fanning also gifts Violet a complexity that may not have been there in the initial script and whilst Violet may seem like a character without too much writing, Fanning gives her personality which triumphs here.

Image result for teen spirit film
The biggest problem with Teen Spirit is that it is desperately clichéd, presenting us with a story that has been told over and over again with only the flare to set it apart from the rest. This may make the film a predictable watch as well as a very shallow one too. The script and subsequent film somewhat wastes the character by never delving deeper than it should’ve done which is a great shame.

That being said, whatever surface level it skims, it does so gleefully – with all the talent of Elle Fanning and all excitement of the titular Teen Spirit.


Fragments Festival plays 7th – 15th June! 

Late Night – Review

Comedy-drama films are a great little subsection that are struggling. In between movies juggernauts such as Avengers: Endgame and small independent movies, mid-level movies that are perfect family watches seem to be struggling.

Hopefully, latest venture Late Night can change the curve.

Image result for late night film
Late Night revolves around Katherine Newbury, a legendary talk-show host and pioneer in her field, being the only woman in the profession. However, her ratings are low and the head of network is firing her. In order to turn this around, Newbury demands more women in her writing team to shake-up the status quo. In comes Molly Patel, a chemical plant expert with a penchant for writing comedy. This is much to the chagrin of the other male writers. As the tough Newbury battles down on Molly, as well as the bullying from her co-workers, can she survive this new position?

Directed by Nisha Ganatra and written by Kaling herself, the film is a smart and ultimately hilarious movie about two women at two ends of their respective professionals, learning to work with one another. There is a lot of rapid-fire lines that truly make you laugh but there is absolute heart . It’s a very droll piece that gets to the soul of the characters.

These are played perfectly by Emma Thompson and Mindy Kaling. Thompson brings a brilliant charisma to Newbury whilst still balancing her cold aloofness as the talk show host learns to grow. As always, Thompson digs into the root of emotional turmoil for Newbury and fleshes her character out greatly. Kaling makes a good accompaniment, crafting her own path as the sweet but naïve Molly. Though you’d have to suspend true belief (as with all comedy films in this ilk) that her character could make a quick progression through her career, she is still an carefully written and performed character with all the charm of Kaling.

Image result for late night film

Kaling and Thompson have loads of chemistry together which makes for an extremely watchable film. It’s sweet and tender, even if the movie may lag a little bit. Late Night particularly struggles when it tries to stick it’s highest emotional moment and has a seriously underdeveloped somewhat antagonist who is thrown away after he commits the worst act.

Still, Late Night is an endearing comedy that has all the right laughs. You’ll root for all the characters including it’s sweet romantic elements that aren’t necessary but still add a layer to the proceedings.

On a final point, it is great to stress how superb the outfits are here. Whilst this does lean more towards Emma Thompson’s outfits (they are literally gag-worthy), Mindy Kaling also has great   It is a phenomenal use to convey characters through their clothing.

OK, actually, one more final point – wouldn’t this make a lovely accompaniment to the highly underrated movie The Intern?



Late Night is in cinemas now! 

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.

Image result for corporate animals film

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.

Image result for Thunder Road

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