Review: Here Comes Hell

A weekend in the country can be a nightmare, if the right combination of people are thrown together. Writer-director Jack McHenry and co-writer Alice Sidgwick have taken this thought and run with it for their feature debut “Here Comes Hell”: a horror-comedy of the same gore-fest breed as Sam Raimi’s “Evil Dead” films, with the action instead taking place in an English country estate in the 1930s rather than in a cabin in the woods. The estate in question is Westwood Manor, recently acquired by the heir of a vast family fortune who has invited his friends to a dinner party at his new home. Naturally, post-dinner entertainment includes a seance - complete with an eccentric medium - which goes just as well as any cinematic encounter with the hereafter has done previously (with the exception of “Ghost”, of course).

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Review: “Ford v Ferrari” (2019) 20th Century Fox

Biopics can be a hard sell at times. “FORD v FERRARI” is one of the latest true stories out of Hollywood that will be hitting the big screen, and here’s why this one deserves to be seen whether you are a racing fan or not, it absolutely deserves your attention. In the mid-’60s, Ford and Ferrari fought it out for real at most brutal of all car races, the 24 Hours of Le Mans, a road race that lasts almost as long as this film. At a whopping 152 minutes, director James Mangold’s biopic is no quick win, but buckle up and sit back for the duration and you will be rewarded with a film that delivers great performances, a gripping tale of determination and courage, and some truly spectacular racing scenes (real or CGI? I couldn’t tell).

Retrospective Review: 8 Women

François Ozon’s “8 Women” (2002) is a locked-house murder mystery whodunit with over the top caricatures who fling around accusations and burst into song. It’s ultra-theatrical and it’s brilliant. Based on Robert Thomas’s 1958 play “Huit Femmes”, the film is set in the 1950s in a snow-bound French manor far from help. As the family gathers for Christmas the patriarch Marcel (Dominique Lamure) is found murdered. Of course nobody can contact the police or get out through the snow. The murderer is amongst them and they need to figure out which one of them it is.

Review: Last Christmas

I think we can all agree that Hallmark-adjacent Christmas movies like “Love, Actually,” “The Holiday,” and most recently, “Last Christmas” were made with female audiences in mind, right? The romantic scenarios that would never happen play on the ladies’ heartstrings during the most festive time of year, the holidays. But, branding a piece of media this way comes at a cost, and that cost is reducing its value as a film. “Last Christmas” (dir. Paul Feig, written by the illustrious Emma Thompson) draws inspiration from the George Michael song of the same name. It centres on Kate (Emilia Clarke), a hot mess of a woman surviving, not thriving, in modern London. She works as an elf employee in a Christmas shop, hoping to someday make it as a performer at West End.

Review: “Last Christmas” (2019) Universal

f Emilia Clarke was looking to step out and reinvent herself after eight years as Game of Thrones’ Daenerys Targaryen, then “LAST CHRISTMAS” would be that vehicle. Along with her character choice of Kate, a wayward and dysfunctional wanna-be actress in her 20’s, who spends her day working as an Elf selling year round Christmas monstrosities – well you couldn’t be further removed from the queen of dragons herself with this one. Her boss, in what is sure to be London’s gaudiest Christmas store, conveniently goes by the moniker “Santa” (Michelle Yeoh), constantly admonishes Kate for her shortcoming, and there are many of them. As a matter of fact, Kate is simply just the worst. Her nights are devoted to getting plastered, trying to find one in the endless array of couches to crash on – and mornings, well mornings are spent trying to recall the who/what/where of the previous evening shenanigans.

ITOL Top 50 Films of the Decade, Entry 36: A Silent Voice

Seeing that Naoko Yamada’s “A Silent Voice” made our list for the Top 50 Films of the Decade was an absolute treat. Not only because it’s always nice to have some anime appreciation, but it’s also great because the film isn’t talked about as much as it should. Yamada’s adaptation of Yoshitoki Oima’s manga of the same name is easily one of my favorite anime films as it pulls no punches in delivering a timeless story about redemption, understanding others, and finding your voice.

Review: A Good Woman Is Hard To Find

Over the years, genre cinema has had a lot of examples of crime dramas from the female perspective. We have had stellar examples further in the past like Kathryn Bigelow's sharp "Blue Steel" (1990) and F. Gary Gray's "Set It Off" (1996) and just recently, we had Lorene Scarafia's vibrant "Hustlers" (2019) and Andrea Berloff's problematic "The Kitchen" (2019). On the more ambitious side, we have had crime films that meld with other genres like Park Chan-wook's artistic "Sympathy for Lady Vengeance" (2005), Carol Morley's "Out of Blue" (2018) and Harmony Korine's "Spring Breakers" (2012). In the case of Abner Pastoll's "A Good Woman Is Hard To Find" (2019), we have that perspective alongside other promising notions that make the film look great on paper. Firstly, it is a British film; and British cinema is well-known for their intensity within crime stories like James Watkins' "Eden Lake" (2008) and Daniel Barber's "Harry Brown" (2009).

Spotlight On the Enigmatic Rooney Mara

With such a pool of talented female actresses currently working it’s difficult to say one that stands out above the others. I could go through a long list of women who have made an impressionable place in movie history, and I still wouldn’t be scraping the surface. A delicate beauty and an inspirational talent, Rooney Mara, for me, is an actress who is special in her own and very unique way. She has an impressive filmography, but even if she had only done a handful of the movies she’s been in, ones I’m going to highlight now, she’d be legendary to me. There’s a fragility to her that is easy to feel connected to, and yet, so many of her characters are strong woman. They really go through things, and Mara captures each heartbreaking intricacy of the process.

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