Film review: Eaten by Lions

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For his second feature film, director Jason Wingard has adapted his award-winning 2013 short film Going to Mecca into feel-good comedy Eaten by Lions. Following the death of their beloved grandmother, half brothers Pete (Jack Carroll) and Omar (Antonio Aakeel) head to Blackpool in search of the latter’s estranged father. They come-of-age on their life-affirming journey, finding laughs and a chance of love along the way.
 Wingard co-wrote the script with David Isaac who is known for his work on British sitcoms and soap operas. This style certainly come across in the way that the gags are set up, and the narrative is consistently amusing without achieving big laugh-out-loud moments. There are some excellent cameos from comedic veterans Johnny Vegas and Kevin Eldon as the plucky brothers navigate their way through a sub-standard story, and enough charm and warmth throughout to make the road-movie an enjoyable ride.

3stars

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DVD review: The Secret of Marrowbone

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 Acclaimed Spanish screenwriter Sergio G. Sánchez takes to the director’s chair for his feature debut The Secret of Marrowbone, a mystery drama that follows a close-knit family threatened by their dark past. In dire need of a fresh start, siblings Jack (George MacKay), Jane (Mia Goth), Billy (Charlie Heaton) and Sam (Matthew Stagg) move from Britain to rural America, setting up home in the Marrowbone House where their mother grew up. When tragedy strikes, they must protect each other from a sinister presence.
 The titular ‘secret’ of the Marrowbones serves as a plot-device to drive the narrative forward, and while the story becomes overly convoluted by a lacklustre love-triangle sub-plot, the smart implementation of traditional horror elements makes for a tense cinematic experience. Sánchez skilfully executes jump scares and other genre tropes, crafting genuinely frightening scenes in the eerie haunted-house setting. Despite some heavy-handed storytelling flaws, the piece works as a suspenseful chill-ride and a solid showcase for rising acting talent.

3.5stars

DVD review: Ideal Home

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Writer and director Andrew Fleming explores a complex yet colourful relationship in comedy drama Ideal Home. The plot follows flamboyant celebrity chef Erasmus (Steve Coogan) and his temperamental producer and husband Paul (Paul Rudd), who enjoy a lavish lifestyle together in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Their turbulent marriage is complicated further when Erasmus’ estranged ten-year-old grandson Bill (Jack Gore) arrives at their door in need of a home.
 The developing dynamic of the dysfunctional family unit carries the plot, bringing a gamut of emotion to the heartfelt story. Paul is the grumpy ‘straight man’ in the beginning while Erasmus is brilliantly bonkers in comparison, but they’re equally outrageous. The introduction of ‘the kid’ throws a spanner in the works of their quarrelsome relationship, and hilarity ensues. Coogan and Rudd are both on fine form, pairing together remarkably well and enjoying their share of the sharply written jokes from Fleming’s terrific script.

4stars

 

DVD review: On Chesil Beach

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Based on Ian McEwan’s Booker Prize-nominated novella of the same name, romantic drama On Chesil Beach is the directorial debut of Dominic Cooke. The plot centres around newlyweds Florence Ponting (Saoirse Ronan) and Edward Mayhew (Billy Howle) as they arrive at their idyllic honeymoon suite by the sea. As simmering societal pressures come to the forefront on the wedding night, are they doomed to fail, or will they live happily ever after?

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