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  • Film (Re)View: IT

    For me, this is where Stephen King went wrong with this story, turning an horrific clown into an alien spider (or whatever it was). It ruined a damn good horror story!

    I kind of understand why he did it, though. It is the whole thing about the face you show to the world, which is not necessarily who you really are. His choice of the darker side of Pennywise just didn’t work for me.

    Choosing a figure that represents the fun and innocence of youth was a clever move on King’s part and has spawned a generation or more of people who are terrified of clowns. This is highlighted in the new series of American Horror Story – AHS: Cult. After all, who would ever suspect that a clown, whose purpose is to entertain and create fun, would ever harm a child? Yet, haven’t all series killers had a benign and affable public facing persona? This is what makes it so shocking when you find out the truth.

    IT is a very child led story which makes it all the more uncomfortable.

    Although the original film was one instalment, the film-makers have, in true Hollywood style, decided to milk it for all it’s worth, and split it into two. Where the original starts with the kids as adults, who go back and remember what happened when they were kids, this new version follows the kids in ‘real time’, so to speak.

    I have to hand it to the film-makers, though. Even though they are ‘dragging it out’, it certainly didn’t feel like it.

    This version of IT was extremely well done, except for the unnecessarily necessary ‘blood everywhere’ scene (bathroom). It illustrated in full technicolour the fears of each of the children and how Pennywise became the image of that fear.

    Speaking of Pennywise, I never thought anyone would pull it off as well as Tim Curry, but hats off to Bill Skarsgard for a truly terrifying and completely mad Pennywise. I wouldn’t say he was better, I’d say he was different.

    For me, Chapter I of IT was the perfect version – all horror and all clown. I doubt Chapter II will capture me quite so much, though I will, of course, be watching!

  • Film (Re)View – The Limehouse Golem

    Running alongside this is the death of failed playwright John Cree, whose wife, Elizabeth (Cooke), is charged with his murder. Kildare is brought into this case too as the clues all seem to point to Cree as the Golem and he is soon bewitched by the vulnerability of the life damaged Elizabeth.

    The movie doesn’t hold anything back in its grim portrayal of the murder scenes. Whilst in many movies, such techniques are grotesquely out of place and poorly done, I did not find this here. For me, it felt that you HAD to see the crime scene for you to get inside the mind of this killer.

    The scenes in the theatre were excellent, with Jan Leno (Booth) a fabulous orator, comedian and friend to Elizabeth.

    The movie keeps you guessing as to who the culprit is and whilst I had my suspicions that it would not be who Kildare thought, the truth was a twist I didn’t see (which is good). The angst that Kildare suffers at the end of the film is brilliant and, although I really thought he would make a different decision, based on his character during the rest of the movie, the path he chose seemed warranted and of benefit to deserving persons.

    The was an excellently made horror movie with a balanced viewpoint, despite the gore. Not once did I think ‘that was unnecessary’ and that, believe me, says a hell of a lot for this film.


  • Film (Re)View – American Made

    Seal (Cruise) was a TWA pilot who was approached by the CIA to fly reconnaissance missions over South America to take photographs, then later to courier items between the US and General Noriega in Panama and then again to run guns to the Contras. It is during his Noriega mission that he was spotted and approached by Jorge Ochoa and Pablo Escobar (Medellin Cartel) and asked if he would smuggle drugs back into the US for them. The lure of money won over against his sense of right and wrong. The government turned a blind eye for a while, but once they’d shut their missions down, he was left at the mercy of all the agencies. To avoid prison time, he makes a deal with the government to bring down Escobar et al. Suffice it to say, this didn’t go as planned.

    The film is an explosion of hedonism and money, all on the back of despicable arms and drugs trading. Seal was seen as some sort of God by both sides, but in the end, he learned that playing both sides was not a winner.

    While the film is entertaining and full of wild stunts, I still came out of it wondering how on earth this could be true. Governments are not to be trusted, we know this, but this film showed a whole different underbelly of corruption.

    It does make me wonder how and why filmmakers chose to make a film out of such material. Is this the sort of thing we want to teach people – that this sort of activity is okay? Yes, it happens, but I don’t think it should be made so public.

    Anyway, if you forget the reality, you basically couldn’t make this up….not in a way that would get people to believe it.

    Believe it or not, I did enjoy this film, but it left a sour taste in my mouth.

  • Film (Re)View – The Dark Tower

    I aim with my eye.

    I do not shoot with my hand; he who shoots with his hand has forgotten the face of his father.
    I shoot with my mind.

    I do not kill with my gun; he who kills with his gun has forgotten the face of his father.
    I kill with my heart

    (Stephen King, The Gunslinger)

    I’ll hold my hands up and freely admit that I haven’t read the books and, maybe, that’s a good thing. I don’t know if they’ve crammed all the books into one film or not and so I could relax and enjoy this cinematic extravaganza, because that’s exactly what it was.

    The story tells of a young boy, Jake, who has visions about a Tower, a Gunslinger (Elba)and the Man in Black (McConaughy). The Man in Black is trying to destroy the Tower using the screams of children, kidnapped from Keystone Earth. The Gunslinger is sworn to protect the Tower, but has lost his mojo. Of course, the adults in Jake’s life believe he is acting out and arrange for him to be seen by a sleep clinic. This prompts him to run away.

    Jake draws everything he sees and one of his drawings is of a house which, coincidentally, isn’t far from where he lives. The house turns out to be a portal to this other world and so Jake’s adventures begin.

    I had to chuckle at the little references to King’s other books – homage was paid to Pennywise the clown via an abandoned fairground ride; and the short story Room 1408 was immortalised as the number of the main portal. I also sniggered at The Man in Black’s fearsome name….Walter. I guess this is a reminder that this is a film aimed at children.

    The filmmakers, thanks to King, have created a thoroughly believable world for me to sit back and enjoy. Not once did I find it odd that an old abandoned house would be a portal to another dimension. I actually thought it was a great use for an abandoned house and got me wondering about the various abandoned buildings near me.

    Suffice it to say, The Dark Tower will take you on an adventure, through the eyes of a young boy, into another world. A world where there exists a Dark Tower, which holds the balance between the worlds and keeps the evil at bay, a Gunslinger who fights to protect the Tower and a Man in Black who wants nothing more than to destroy it to unleash said evil. Why he wants to let the evil out is unclear, but we can assume it’s because he is, in essence, the devil, and he wants to be surrounded by more of his kind.

  • Film (Re)View – Annabelle: Creation

    It wasn’t scary, not for me anyway, but it was extremely creepy. The filmmakers succeeded in suspending my disbelief and creating a scenario where possession exists and where a child’s spirit (or otherwise) can be summoned back. Apart from the sheet over the doll incident -which, in all honesty, there was no realistic way of doing that scene – all the chills and spills were extremely well done. The effects in this film did NOT stink of cheese, I am pleased to say.

    The film is about a dollmaker (LaPaglia) and his wife who have a young daughter, Bee (Annabelle), who is tragically killed. So desperate to have some connection to her, they summon what they believe is her spirit to reside inside the doll, but they don’t realise they have summoned a demon which is hungry for souls.

    After the demon takes half of Mrs Mullins face, Mr Mullins summons a priest and, between them, they bless the house and lock the doll away – why they didn’t burn it I have no idea!!

    The Mullins’, wanting to hear happiness in their house again, take in a group of orphan girls, one of whom, Janice, is crippled due to polio. It is Janice that the spirit draws in and makes its own and whom it uses to try and destroy the others.

    I won’t tell you anymore, but the end of the film dovetailed perfectly into the opening of a previous Conjuring release – very well done!

    Go and watch this film. There is a reason china/wooden faced dolls are rather creepy!!

  • Film (Re)View – Atomic Blonde

    One of the great things about this film was the realistic and authentic fight scenes. I really felt for Theron’s stunt double because she took a pasting on more than one occasion. It was so so good to see a real fight scene and not a CGI/computer-gamed one (Take note film-makers!!). The fight scenes were extremely violent and bloody and it was great to see the real impact of being shot through the head. Hats off to the team for these sequences.

    The plot wasn’t anything special, if I’m honest. A list of names of ‘spys’ that, in the wrong hands, could extend the length of the Cold War by a lifetime. The list also contained the identity of a double agent and this was the cat and mouse chase throughout the movie. It did keep you guessing as to who it might be and I like that, as I don’t want to be able to work it out too soon; the film becomes dull then.

    Stellar acting from both Theron and McAvoy, who were brilliantly convincing in their respective roles.

    The only eye roller for me was the unnecessary girl on girl sex scene in the film. Boys…it makes it so obvious that this film was made by men who need to get out a bit more, I’m afraid. It didn’t fit with the plot and it was obvious it was just thrown in because, well…Theron & Boutella….well, why not. Ladies, you should have put your foot down!!

    Apart from that, the film was intriguing, fast paced, full of action and violence, with a nice twist at the end. All you could ask for really ?

  • Film (Re)View – Wish Upon

    After losing her mother to suicide, young Clare is brought up by her father, Jonathan, who gave up on his dream of being a sax player and dumpster dives for a living instead. One such dive uncovered a box covered in Chinese writing, which he cleaned up and gave to Clare.

    Clare, a student of Chinese, could translate some of the writing on the box, enough to learn that the box was said to grant wishes. Now, for a girl who didn’t fit in at school, this was a gift to say the least. The box said it would grant seven wishes and she wasted no time in making her first one – that the girl bullying her at school ‘just rot’……..and that’s exactly what she did; she developed necrotising fasciitis!

    The thing that Clare didn’t know, because she was unable to translate all the writing, was that each wish demanded a blood sacrifice. She didn’t even connect the dots, not straight away, when those she cared about started dying in freak accidents.

    Giving the box away didn’t help and it was impossible to destroy.

    Clare thought she had beaten the box at its own game when she wished she had never been given it, but she clearly hadn’t understood the ultimate cost of having your wishes granted.

    The film has what all good horror films should have…….a shocking ending that really slaps you in the face and makes you sit up and take note.

    Hats off to the writers and director because not once did I question the validity of this story. Objects that grant wishes are the stuff of fairy tales, but this most definitely wasn’t a fairy tale. It was a real world scenario where it seemed perfectly normal to find a Chinese wish box with a bite!

    Most definitely worth a watch!

  • Film (Re)View – Dunkirk

    As always, Christopher Nolan delivered. This film wasn’t about the fighting; but about trying to get our army (and the French) to safety so they could go on fighting a war. Yet, on that beach, these men were fighting a different war, a war for survival.

    Tommy’s viewpoint emphasised the difficulty these soldiers faced in trying to get home. I’ve lost count of the number of times he found his way onto a boat, only for it to be destroyed by the Germans, and him to wind up back on the beach at Dunkirk. His interactions with fellow soldiers, one of whom was Harry Styles (an impressive performance), highlighted the ‘survival of the fittest’ mentality that existed; yet Tommy tried to save the french officer, against the will of the others.

    Mr Dawson, a man who had lost a son to the war (a common story) didn’t hesitate to volunteer his boat to aid the rescue operation. So many civilians did the same thing, enabling approx 300,000 men, out of the 400,000 stranded on that beach, to be rescued. That takes more than just courage and I am humbled by their selflessness.

    Farrier, the remaining airborne fighter pilot, fought to keep the German air force from bombing the boats, to the extent that he sacrificed his own life for the sake of his comrades. To make such a decision is more than admirable and it was a heartstopping moment when he landed that wounded and fuel less plane on the beach, on the German side, and stepped out to face German guns.

    Nolan has surpassed himself. Go and see this film, that’s all I can say.

  • Film (Re)View – War For The Planet of The Apes

    This film has been slated as having a weak storyline, but I disagree. Simple is not weak. The title of the film – ‘War’ – should give the game away. At the heart of a war the story is simple, one side wants to destroy the other; that’s all this film was doing.

    It didn’t start out this way, as many wars don’t. Caesar was set on moving the apes to a place out of reach of the humans that hated and hunted them.The trouble was, said humans, just wouldn’t leave them alone. As is the way with the human race, if it doesn’t like something, it must remove it from the face of the earth.

    The main target was Caesar himself, but the Colonel messed up and killed his wife and eldest son instead. An act of all out war.

    Blinded by his need to avenge the death of his family, Caesar set out to destroy the Colonel and left his troop to find their new home without his protection. Needless to say, they were captured and held within the Colonel’s compound, forced to work without food to build a wall for him.

    Caesar’s task, therefore, was complicated by his need to free his troop, which included his youngest son.

    The film deals with hatred, loyalty, love, trust and freedom. It is an amazing piece of film-making and I am humbled by the acting as well as the effects.

    The film will pull at your heart-strings as well as test your own strength of will. Would you kill for those you love, if they were taken from you? Think about it.

    This world was thoroughly believable and the story within it, one that is all too familiar in this real world.

    Personally, I found this film thoroughly engaging; my only criticism being that it was a bit too long.

  • Film (Re)View – It Comes at Night

    The film is set in a post apocalyptic world and so, by definition, is actually a horror film. The apocalypse has been caused by a contagious virus which is transmitted via contact with an infected person or animal.

    The story centres on a family, headed up by Paul (Joel Edgerton), who have just lost Grandad to the virus. He leaves behind a daughter, grandson and son-in-law….plus his faithful companion, Stanley the dog. The key, I think, is the dog, assumed benign, but is he?

    They end up taking in another family, the mother of whom is none other than Elvis’ granddaughter, Riley Keogh.

    By throwing the two families together, the film highlights the human condition and its highly suspicious nature. Each family swears they are virus free, yet one of them isn’t, but who is it?

    The ‘drama’ is created when Stanley runs away and is then found dead in the house. Stanley is said to have the virus. Stanley bit Paul before he ran off, yet it is the other couple’s son, Andrew, who is blamed for having the virus.

    It shows how, in a world such as this, it is every man for himself and it shows how difficult it is to trust other human beings. Everyone becomes the enemy; something which The Walking Dead illustrates very well.

    This film is very very good. The filmmakers have convinced me of this world and have spun a real story within it. It has a shocking ending and leaves you wondering. For me, though, it did leave too many questions.

    Was it all Travis’ dream? Was Andrew the carrier? Was Travis the carrier? Was Paul, who got bitten, the carrier? Was Stanley even sick (makes sense he would be, given he was the Grandfather’s dog).

    Go see for yourself as, despite my questions, it is well worth a watch.