cinema · LFF20

Film review: Possessor

Following in the footsteps of his father, the iconic filmmaker David Cronenberg, writer and director Brandon Cronenberg dabbles in the ‘body horror’ sub-genre that his old man pioneered for his grisly sophomore feature Possessor. Revered hitwoman Tasya Vos (Andrea Riseborough) is at the centre of the sci-fi thriller, working for an organisation that uses brain-implant technology to allow assassins to carry out hits whilst inhabiting someone else’s body. For her latest assignment, she must ‘possess’ Colin Tate (Christopher Abbott) to take out his boss John Parse (Sean Bean), the filthy rich head of a data mining corporate empire.

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cinema · LFF20

Film review: Shirley

Based on the novel of the same name by Susan Scarf Merrell, the latest drama from director Josephine Decker stars Elisabeth Moss as reclusive horror writer Shirley Jackson. As the eponymous author and her professor husband Stanley (Michael Stuhlbarg) invite newlyweds Fred (Logan Lerman), a fresh-faced teaching assistant, and his wife Rose (Odessa Young) into their marital home, the plot explores the complex dynamics of their relationships. In the beginning, the young and impressionable couple are keen to gain wisdom from their talented elders, but as the situation takes a perverse turn, their marriage is put to the test.

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cinema · LFF20

Film review: Rose – A Love Story

Jennifer Sheridan’s feature debut Rose – A Love Story follows the mysterious life of a couple living in a shadowy cabin in the woods. Husband Sam (Matt Stokoe) and wife Rose (Sophie Rundle) are almost detached from civilisation in their somewhat strained, yet very loving, marriage. He spends his days outdoors, chopping wood for their fire and hunting their dinner, while she stays inside, working on her next book. It transpires that the pair are protecting a dark secret as when they reluctantly take in an unexpected house guest, their secluded refuge comes under severe threat.

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cinema · LFF20

Film review: Mangrove

Steve McQueen’s work was lauded with much critical acclaim when he directed historical saga 12 Years a Slave. For his latest effort, he tells another important true story of racial prejudice, but this time it’s much closer to home. The first episode of the Small Axe mini-series, Mangrove follows modest restaurateur Frank Crichlow (Shaun Parkes) as he opens a West Indian eatery in the Notting Hill district of West London. His place becomes a lively neighbourhood hub for the black community and after continuous harassment from the local authorities, he is encouraged by Black Panther Movement leader Altheia Jones-Lecointe (Letitia Wright) to make a stand. Their peaceful protest soon descends into chaos, leading to an emotionally-charged trial.

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cinema

Film review: Tenet

Christopher Nolan continues to push the envelope of storytelling through his mind-bending plots and special effects. His latest effort, Tenet, might be his highest concept yet; an action thriller where a CIA agent played by John David Washington, credited only as The Protagonist, tries to save the world from a very peculiar threat. He teams up with Neil (Robert Pattinson) to investigate an organisation operating in the future where technology is being used to make objects move in reverse. This leads them to Russian oligarch Andrei Sator (Kenneth Branagh) and his wife Kat (Elizabeth Debicki), and when they discover the magnitude of the danger, they must manipulate time to overcome the odds.

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cinema

Film review: I Used to Go Here

 Gillian Jacobs goes back to school in indie comedy I Used to Go Here, written and directed by indie filmmaker Kris Rey. The story centres around Chicago-based author Kate Conklin (Jacobs) who, having just had her debut novel published, is asked to give a guest lecture at the college she had graduated from years earlier. This invite takes her back to the street she once lived on, reconnects her with former professor David (Jemaine Clement), and presents a unique opportunity to relive her youth.

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cinema

Film review: Babyteeth

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Australian actress Eliza Scanlen transitioned from soap to the big screen as sickly sister Beth March in the recent critically acclaimed adaptation of classic novel Little Women. She portrays another tragic teen in coming-of-age drama Babyteeth, the directorial debut of Shannon Murphy. Based upon Rita Kalnejais’s stage play of the same name, the plot follows high schooler Milla (Scanlen) who, whilst battling cancer, falls for Moses (Toby Wallace), a low-level drug dealer with bad tattoos and a rattail haircut. The blossoming romance is met with much disdain by her protective parents Anna (Essie Davis) and Henry (Ben Mendelsohn), who are both struggling to deal with their daughter’s diagnosis.

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cinema

Film review: The Assistant

Documentary filmmaker Kitty Green transitions from fact to fiction for her fourth feature The Assistant. Inspired by the Me Too movement, the drama tells a day in the life tale of Jane (Julia Garner), a fresh-faced assistant to an influential figure in the film industry. Feeling isolated and under pressure in a male-dominated environment, she naively turns to Wilcock (Matthew Macfadyen) in the HR department when she suspects untoward behaviour from the powers that be.

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cinema · GFF20

Film review: Rocks

 With a largely non-professional cast and an improvised script, high school drama Rocks is a daring, some might say risky, third feature from director Sarah Gavron. The London-based plot centres around Shola (Bukky Bakray), a fun-loving teenager whose nickname gives the film its title. On what first appears to be like any other school morning, she wakes up to discover that her mother has absconded, leaving behind only a letter of apology and some cash in an envelope. Fending for herself and her little brother Emmanuel (D’angelou Osei Kissiedu), she is forced to grow up fast and puts on a brave face whilst trying to make ends meet and avoid unwanted attention from the local authorities.

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cinema · GFF20

Film review: Calm With Horses

 Glanbeigh is a fictional small-town on the west coast of Ireland which serves as the bleak yet breath-taking backdrop for a series of short stories called Young Skins by author Colin Barrett. Crime novella Calm With Horses is the bruising centrepiece of the collection and has been adapted for the screen by newcomer director Nick Rowland and screenwriter Joseph Murtagh. The plot centres around ex-boxer turned muscle Douglas ‘Arm’ Armstrong (Cosmo Jarvis) who does the dirty work of Dympna (Barry Keoghan) for the drug-pedalling Devers family. When he discovers that his ex-girlfriend Ursula (Niamh Algar) is moving to Cork with their young son Jack, he is forced to confront his conflicting loyalties head on.

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