Monday, 26 November 2018

BFI LFF 2018: VOX LUX - Dir. Brady Corbet

Spoiler Warning: Lots of spoilers ahead

Knowing very little about a film before watching it opens up the possibility of giving over time to a film that thoroughly squanders it, but also the possibility of being swept up in a film with no expectations or suggestion of where it will take you. In the case of Vox Lux, knowing little more than the title and cast members led to being wholly unprepared for the film’s startling opening. That intense reaction is indicative of the entire experience crafted by writer and director Brady Corner. This is a film of extremes. Extreme pain and extreme joy; extreme highs and extreme lows. All presented to question and challenge the acceptable boundaries of 21st century celebrity culture.

Vox Lux opens with a school shooting in 1999; Celeste (Raffey Cassidy) survives but with spinal injuries. After singing at a candlight vigil soon after, Celeste launches on a path to popstardom with her sister Eleanor (Stacy Martin) and produced (Jude Law) in tow.

Tuesday, 16 October 2018


Now almost a decade into his feature filmmaking career, perennial London Film Festival favourite Ben Wheatley returns with Happy New Year, Colin Burstead: perhaps his warmest film to date and a perfect sweary antidote to the usual festive offerings.

Colin Burstead (an excellent Neil Maskell) has hired a grand Dorset castle to bring his family together for a New Year's party. Like every family, they don't always get along but the Burstead are perhaps more resentful than most. So far so Agatha Christie but there's no chance of the butler being murdered here as the Burstead family are far too embittered to actually murder anyone; it’s as if their resentment for each other would only be exceeded by the resentment towards someone who no longer had to endure the curt and strained conversations.

Friday, 12 October 2018

BFI LFF 2018: TWO PLAINS & A FANCY - Dir. Lev Kalman & Whitney Horn

A spiritualist, an artist and a geologist walk into a abandoned mining town. Even if you have heard of that joke before, you’ve probably never heard it told in quite the same manner as Lev Kalman and Whitney Horn tell it in their latest. Funded through Kickstarter, Two Plains & a Fancy is the first self-proclaimed ‘spa western’, which is an accurate description that doesn’t begin to hint at what is to come.

It’s 1893 and the aforementioned trio (Marianna McClellan, Benjamin Crotty, Laetitia Dosch) have travelled to Colorado in search of the region's famous hot springs. What they don't know is that the price of silver has abruptly fallen the once thriving region is facing a severe downturn.

Tuesday, 28 August 2018

Searching - Dir. Aneesh Chaganty

The Social Network is a great film about the birth of social media but in the 8 years since that film’s release, there haven’t been too many great films about social media and our relationship with it. When not too busy gruesomely disposing of its characters, 2015’s Unfriended addressed bullying and the pervasive permanence of online activity from a viewpoint inside computer screens, the eyes of each character gazing down into the audience; it was a gimmick, but a well executed gimmick. Searching builds on that gimmick and develops into a film that brings to mind the unreliable storytelling of David Fincher’s Gone Girl and the teenage woes of Kelly Fremon Craig’s The Edge of Seventeen.

Two years on from the death of his wife Pamela (Sara Sohn), David Kim (John Cho) is raising their daughter Margot (Michelle La) on his own. When Margot doesn’t return home one evening, David grows ever more worried and an investigation, led by detective Rosemary Vick (Debra Messing) is launched. As the police explore the time honoured avenues, David searches through his daughter’s laptop in the hope of finding any clues, but finds some uncomfortable truths waiting for him too.

Monday, 23 July 2018

Calibre - Dir. Matt Palmer

Fresh from a win and a multitude of plaudits at the Edinburgh International Film Festival, Matt Palmer’s debut feature arrives on Netflix, lying in wait to test the nerves of any unsuspecting viewer.

Expectant father Vaughn (Jack Lowden) somewhat reluctantly agrees to a hunting trip with childhood friend Marcus (Martin McCann) in northern Scotland. A night of heavy drinking in the village pub leads to devastating consequences during the following morning’s woodland hunt.