Tag Archives: LFF

Mandy – Review

There are some movies out there that are made to purely blow your mind. Mandy is one of them.

Directed by Panos Cosmatos, the film revolves around a couple, Mandy and Red, living in the Pacific Northwest during the eighties. Secluded in the Shadow Mountains, they live their life idyllically and in love. However, when a cult-like group, led by the petulant Jeremiah, spot Mandy walking through the forest, they invade their home intent on indicting her into their group. When Mandy refuses, laughing in Jeremiah’s face, he kills her in front of Red. Angered, Red goes on a brutal and bloody revenge mission.

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I’ll get it out of the way now: Both Mandy and it’s fellow midnight movie companion Upgrade are brilliantly accomplished films. However, they are both blighted by churning out the same problem. The wife or lover having to die in order for the man to go on a mission of revenge and a spiritual journey because of it. That is a story that itself should’ve have died (only for a man to go on rampage in vengeance.) That being said, when they are told this spectacularly, we can hardly grumble.

Mandy is a visual masterpiece. Cosmatos injects a feverish imaginative energy. The imagery is impeccable, utilising our new obsession with brightly neon colours. The cinematography flits between red, green, and purple whilst also playing with light and shadow. It is a spectacle, like a vivid and vibrant nightmare that it dares to bend the boundaries in cinema making. There’s animated dreams, title sequences throughout the film, and an absolutely divine shot-layer that is as inventive as it is beautiful. Cosmatos has crafted a wicked feast of imagery that is filled with every colour of the spectrum.

It is a movie that certainly capitalises on Nic Cages particular brand of madness acting. He is at his pinnacle here, with moments so gloriously batty that the audiences erupted into applause. Yet despite all his crazed antics, he is also able to muster great sorrow and rage. Moments of anguish feel real in his hands because he is making them so. It’s a fantastic lead performance by Cage but perhaps one not fully appreciated. In moments, he is actually tender and sweet but his screen presence and history caused titters and laughter which is unnecessary at times. Still Cage puts in an earnest performance as Red that is a engaging, watchable, and amazing.

He is only eclipsed by Andrea Riseborough every time she is on screen. As fleeting as her character is, Riseborough makes her presence felt throughout. She has such haunting eyes and a brilliant way of making herself so enthralling.

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Linus Roache makes a very brilliant impression as the antagonist Jeremiah. An old pop-star wannabe transformed into a “disciple of God” (yet still with the massive ego.) In fact, I’d go as far to say that that’s all fanatical religious leaders are – attention-seeking children who cry when things don’t go their way. Omph, whilst that may have not been the intention, it is definitely on the nose with recent affairs.

The late Johann Johansson created a synth-heavy score that feels like an ode to classic metal songs of yore (in fact, the whole film feels that way too.) It’s a sorrow-filled reminder of the talent we lost; encompassing music that masters the emotive and highlights the story-telling.

Mandy is the film you’re expecting and it isn’t at the same time. It has evolves, transforming every second it’s on the screen. Cosmatos has crafted a film that is haunting yet hilarious, The colours are vibrant, the performances are deeper and crazier than expected, the score is enchanting – every beat becomes a louder . Bewitching and barbaric, Mandy is a movie definitely made with the intention to purely blow your mind.

Mandy is out on DVD & Blu-Ray now! 

If Beale Street Could Talk – Review

With Academy Award winner Moonlight (honestly, it thrills me so much to still say that,) Barry Jenkins showed the world that he was not just a talented filmmaker, but he was an innovative one too. Not just by his story structure or the stirring cinematography, but by the gifted way he can find a voice and a character…

A voice and a character midst the silence. The beating heart of a person in the chaos of life. The stirring truth of identity and sexuality. Barry Jenkins is adept at all of this and more. So when his next project – If Beale Street Could Talk – was announced, the whole film world was gripped to see what he’d produce next.

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Based on a novel by James Baldwin, If Beale Street Could Talk revolves around young woman Tish and her partner Fonny who are living in 1960s New York. Fonny is falsely accused of rape and sent to prison just as the pair are about to start their lives. When Tish announces that she is pregnant, her family and his move forward to help exonerate him from prison. But when his accuser disappears and the only witness is also arrest, all hope for Tish and Fonny seems to fritter away. Can the pair gain their happy ever after?

If Beale Street Could Talk is a sublime exploration of love and prejudice. By concentrating on the centric pair, director Barry Jenkins concocts a glorious display of emotion and spends a heft of the film showing just how connected Tish and Fonny are. As proven with his previous film, Jenkins truly is a story-teller who can produce believably and earnest depictions of love and here is no different. Tish and Fonny feel real – as though actors Stephan James and KiKi Layne just so happened to be a 1960’s couple – and that helps you invest in their pairing.

There is also a great and sensitive exploration of the racism that impacts the day to day life of black people. With clear allusions to what is happening right now, and also montages of photographs, there is a clear comment on the trauma and prejudice people of colour suffered from (and still do.) Brutish police officers who never forget a face to Brian Tyrell Harvey’s speech on fear, it is never forgotten that black people have agonized from atrocities that are still prevalent in America today.

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Added to this is the absolutely incandescent cinematography and cinematic language. The movie flits through flashbacks and sequences similarly to Moonlight but without ever dipping into confusion. It portrays New York in an era soaked light with some achingly gorgeous use of colour. Through James Laxton’s impeccable eye, the film is a vibrant and lush cityscape of imagery and emotion. It’s simply beautiful to watch.

Nicholas Brittel’s sublime score is emotive. Within minutes of the film, you’ll find yourself already pushed to the emotional edge with it all.  Jenkins has not only proved that he is far from a one-trick director, but he also has his own particular style and cinematic brand. With If Beale Street Could Talk, Barry Jenkins’ has proven himself to be our most engaged and exciting filmmaker.

If Beale Street Could Talk is out on DVD & Blu-Ray now! 

The Breaker Upperers – Review

New Zealand comedy has become increasingly popular over the past couple of years. That has largely been down to Taika Waititi’s gloriousness, bringing us the taste of the islands. Through films such as What We Do in the Shadows and Boy, Waititi has successfully brought the world of New Zealand to our shores without including a single hobbit.

But the countries comedic history is so much more than just Waititi. You have Peter Jackson’s comedy horrors like Bad Taste and Jonathan King’s side-splitting Black Sheep.

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Written, directed by, and starring Jackie van Beak and Madeleine Sami, The Breaker Upperers revolves around Mel and Jen, best friends who run an unusual business. It’s their job to break-up couples in many different ludicrous ways such as police offices informing that a jilted lover is missing or jealous mistresses. When an old boyfriend of Jen’s returns and a young client makes the pass at Mel, brooding issues starts to arise causing friction with the pair. Can the team solve their problems and stay as best friends?

From a great and unique premise comes a movie filled with some hilarious jokes and super one-liners. The Breaker Upperers is an entertaining comedy of oddities with some pretty surreal characters and wonderful comedic timing.

The Breaker Upperers is a riotous and darkly humorous comedy that is successful due to its leading cast. Van Beak and Sami are a brilliant on-screen duo. The pair have been knocking around Kiwi comedies for a while and it is nice to see them greatly at work in this on-point film. They work extremely well together, bouncing mirthful one-liners off one another and with style. Plus, they are completely believable as best friends. It’s the warmth of their partnership and the dry wit that make the film an accomplished film.

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Yes, for fans of Waititi, this is a definitely a must-see movie, especially because Jason Rolland’s from Boy appears. The Breaker Upperers does lag in story-telling and there are certainly bum-shuffling scenes as moments don’t land. Yet there’s a lot of heart here coupled with some truly slick humour. Hilarious yet with so much heart, the warmth and humour of this film is unmissable. Plus sliced into a programme that is drama or horror heavy, The Breaker Upperers is a perfect weekend movie.

The film also has the best X-Men/Vagina joke that you will ever hear. That’s a sentence that I never thought I’d write.

The Breaker Upperers is available on Netflix now.