Mini Review: Make Up

“Make Up” is the feature debut for English writer/director Claire Oakley. A horror/drama film about a teenage girl tangling with her own emotions and relationships in a Cornish caravan park as surreal occurrences start to untangle her sense of reality. The film starts very promisingly, as protagonist Ruth (played by Molly Windsor) arrives at the caravan park in the middle of the night. The film starts building a surreal atmosphere early, as many of the side characters speak in slightly odd, unnatural dialogue in a way that feels intentional. Wide shots and lateral tracks are frequently used to add to this unsettling air as Ruth starts to believe that her boyfriend Tom (Joseph Quinn) is cheating on her.

Mini Review: Two of Us

The person introducing “Two of Us” (aka “Deux”) to audiences at the Glasgow Film Festival made sure to note the film’s confident filmmaking from feature debut writer/director Filippo Meneghetti. This was an incredibly accurate assessment. The film’s extensive use of Spielbergian oners and dramatic push-ins is emblematic of a creator with full control of their toolbox of cinematic tricks without feeling the need to over-indulge or show-off.  Meneghetti deftly uses restraint to create intrigue and suspense in this small, personal story. But key to making this film as engaging as it is are the lead performances of Barbara Sukowa and Martine Chevallier who perfectly play their roles as an elderly queer couple kept apart by tragic circumstance and the bigotry of those around them.

Review: What Keeps You Alive

Oh, "What Keeps You Alive" is Hitchcockian, alright--in how one of the characters isn’t the way they seem at the beginning; in how a gasp-worthy plot twist comes right outta nowhere at the film’s midpoint which will surely elicit gasps. Unfortunately, it starts to make less sense the longer it goes on. Colin Minihan’s thriller presents a horrific nightmare about a new relationship. It presents the “never really knowing your own spouse” trope with fresh packaging which mostly succeeds in delivering a high-octane thrill ride. 

Retrospective Review: Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles

Anne Rice’s debut novel, “Interview with the Vampire” was published in 1976 and was somewhat controversial at the time for its openly erotic depiction of the undead. Two years later, “Dracula” would open on Broadway with first Frank Langella and then Raul Julia as the Count with obvious sex appeal. The book would take nearly two decades to be adapted to the screen but by that time, Rice had paved the way for vampires to be portrayed with animal magnetism such that Bela Lugosi would never have gotten away with in the 1930’s.  Brad Pitt plays Louis as a mournful sympathetic vampire, regretful of his lost humanity and the loss of human life he is directly responsible for. His desire to unburden his conscience sets up the interview of the film’s title as he tells his life story to Christian Slater. Director Neil Jordan deliberately shows Pitt as androgynous with long hair, perfect skin and full lips. It is no surprise that the vampire Lestat (Tom Cruise) desires him or that other vampires will want to possess him as well

ITOL Top 50 Films of the Decade, Entry No. 34: The Miseducation of Cameron Post

To capture the essence of the LGBTQ+ community is becoming a more popular narrative in contemporary cinema. But to be able to evidence their struggles and hardships, whilst also attaining a light-hearted atmosphere, showing raw emotion, and enabling a true presentation of a situation that can be reflected into many of the audience’s daily lives, is what is lacking in many of these recent movies. Yet Desiree Akhavan presents all of this so effortlessly in her film "The Miseducation of Cameron Post". Being part of the LGBTQ+ community herself enabled significant support for Akhavan when she directed this beautiful narrative which follows friendships, betrayals and the exploration of sexualities.

ITOL Top 50 Films of the Decade, Entry No. 41: Pariah

The Forever Young Film Club is a British organisation whose primary activity is to host screenings of coming-of-age movies. "Girlhood", "Booksmart" and "Mid90s" have all attracted large crowds, and the Club is clearly going from strength to strength. The main reason for this continuing success is down to the hard work of the three women behind the screenings, but there’s also the fact that, sooner or later, pretty much all of us have to grow up. Changing friendships, sex, sexuality, hopes, dreams and discovering your parent/s’ flaws are all part of moving from childhood to adulthood, which means that coming-of-age is perhaps cinema’s most relatable subgenre. Dee Rees’ 2011 feature debut “Pariah” is one such film.

ITOL Top 50 Films of the Decade, Entry No. 48: Appropriate Behavior

Heartbreak is the worst, and heartbreak in New York City is a crime against the universe. All it takes is a little New York ingenuity, some comic misadventures, and then everything will come back together again, right? That’s how it works in a romantic comedy! But what about when the star of our romantic comedy isn’t just a typical New York artist? What about when she’s bisexual out of work journalist, when she’s the daughter of traditional Iranian immigrants, and when she’s determined to get back together with her ex-girlfriend?

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