New Release Review- Mistress America, 2015

Available from the 7th December on ITunes, blinkbox, Amazon Instant Video, Virgin Movies, TalkTalk Box Office, eir Vision Movies, Google Play

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If I’m not in my body then where am I?

Five feet to the left and unhappy.

Mistress America is strangely accomplished and cheesy at the same time. Noah Baumbach presents us with something so punchy and relentless and fast paced that it becomes just so enjoyable to watch.

Tracy (Lola Kirke) has just started college in New York, she is lonely and nervous and struggles to make new friends. That is until she calls her soon to be step sister Brooke (Greta Gerwig) and a strange relationship ensues. I can only describe it as Nick/ Gatsby- esque with the fast talker Brooke naturally taking on the Gatsby role.

With well written characters (screenplay from Greta Gerwig and Noah Baumbach) and well presented characters it’s impossible not to get drawn in. Brooke, played by Gerwig, is a central piece to this film. The acting performance from both Gerwig and Kirke is to be commended as is the writing provided by Gerwig and Baumbach. Add that to the feel good sound track with music that feels as if it has been taken right from a Joy Division album and I’m sold on this film.

Mistress America is an exploration of family, of marriage, generations and, of course, the struggle we all face in finding out who we are and what we want- and it does it well. There are moments, moments that most films like this will face, where the whole thing is veering towards an ending so cheesy and fake it could have ruined the whole thing. Mistress America avoids this and takes us to a place of harsh reality and comforting conclusion in knowing our characters will be okay.

4/5

New Release Review- The Curse of Downers Grove, 2015

Avaliable from 11th December on Netflix UK

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The Curse of Downers Grove begins with the vaguely interesting premise about a curse that kills one student a year before graduation day. We then quickly descend into a completely different film that has nothing to do with the curse until- I don’t know- the last minute maybe?

With the tag line; ‘HIGH SCHOOL CAN BE MURDER.’ you have to start wondering why add the curse in the movie at all. The Curse of Downers Grove is really about horrible jocks, who take drugs, vandalize and sexually assault women every chance they get. One in particular decides to take revenge on Chrissie Swanson (Bella Heathcote) who ripped his eye out in an act of self defense. The movie will use every trick it can think of to let you know just how terrible these boys are and it gets boring. We get it. They’re bad. Anything else going on?

Two of our protagonists Chrissie and her brother (Martin Spanjers) are fairly well rounded, unfortunately everyone else falls under a ‘we’re bad’/ ‘we’re good’ stereotype/ that one guy, who looks so much like young Heath Ledger that it was mildly distracting, who played ‘generic rom-com love interest’. That’s about it for this film. None of the acting was particularly great and neither was the story.

The Curse of Downers Grove is not one to watch. You’ll only end up sitting there wondering why everyone in this film is making unrealistic or stupid decisions.

1/5

Now On Netflix Review- Creep, 2014

Available now on Netflix UK

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Mark Duplass delivers an absolutely terrifying performance in Patrick Brice’s Creep.

Aaron (Patrick Brice) is a videographer looking for work and the answer immediately appears, because that’s how it works in horror films. Josef (Mark Duplass) is offering $1,000 for one day of filming. Aaron takes the job, but admits that the situation seems too good to be true. It is. Obviously.

The film, a found footage piece, lives up to it’s name with a ruthless atmosphere of unquestionable creepiness. Mark Duplass delivers the kind of performance you just can’t turn away from and his character, Josef, quickly becomes the star. While some parts are laugh- out- loud funny there’s always that creepy undertone that won’t go away, and that’s why this film succeeds in the way it does. It’s awkward and terrifying and sets itself apart from the sea of awful found footage films out there.

Creep shifts so seamlessly and quickly from funny to scary that it’s hard to know how to react, except for a deep disturbance you’re bound to feel. If you’re looking for a good found footage with lots of atmosphere then Creep is the one for you.

Extremely watchable, definitely one to catch.

4/5

Recommended Blogs- Films, books and reviews

Just a quick post on blogs I love to read- be sure to take a look as you might find some of these interesting yourself.

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Film

http://paragraphfilmreviews.com/ – Exactly what it says on the tin. Short and sweet, straight to the point movie news, this blog is always worth a read!

https://jordanandeddie.wordpress.com/ –  First of all this blog looks awesome, secondly I love the content here- lots of great film reviews and lists- check them out!

http://thefilmratings.com/ – Reviews, news, reports, a little bit of everything here. Definitely worth a follow if you’re looking to keep up to date with the latest stuff.

Books

https://byfordsbooks.wordpress.com/ – Looking for books to read? You’ll find lots of things to read on this blog with occasional suggestions on what edition to get so you get the best illustrations  or what ever it is you’re looking for.

Blogs

https://intrigueandadventure.wordpress.com/ – A personal blog with a wonderful emphasis on film, some nice reading here if you’re looking for something a bit more casual.


I’m thinking about doing these monthly or bi- monthly so like this if you would be interested in that/ comment or like if you think your blog might be something I’d enjoy and I’ll be sure to check you out and maybe give you a shout-out next time I do one of these!

Now On Netflix Review- Preservation, 2014

Available now on Netflix UK

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Utter trash.

Couple Wit and Mike (Wrenn Schmit/ Aaron Staton) decide to take a camping trip in an attempt to run from their problems, but things don’t go to plan when Mike’s brother Sean (Pablo Schreiber) ends up tagging along. Of course it’s probably a blessing in disguise as they’re soon being hunted by mysterious men and ex- military brother Sean is probably their best hope to get out of the woods alive.

Why? Why does everyone split up in horror films? It never, ever, works.

After seeing that Mike and Wit can make their way back to the car Sean decides to go back and save his dog.

It’s never a good sign when you kill of your best character half an hour in. Sean is quickly murdered, which is an endless disappointment because he was the only character with an interesting back story. Still, I watch on because I have a secret love for VOD trash.

There’s not an awful lot of mood or atmosphere in this film, it is what it is, which is a trashy survival- esque horror movie.

The ending ‘twist’ is an obvious cliche, you’ll work it out early on if you’re watching this movie with any kind of interest- but it is a cliche for a reason as it still works to add a disturbing layer as this film comes to an end.

2/5

Now On Netflix Review- Death Proof, 2007

Available Now on Netflix UK

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Tarantino’s Death Proof is a film with two intense acts. It’s a dialogue- packed, blood- splatter horror with a re-watch-ability that guarantees the same thrill every time you watch it.

Death Proof is often considered as Tarantino’s worst film and I cannot see why. It’s full to the brim with great imagery and while it has a whole load of Tarantino’s obsessions present (there’s no shortage of feet here), that doesn’t mean this film is weak. Yeah, it revolves around ‘hot babes’ partying and drug taking but behind that the film is ultimately a feminist piece- or at the very least pro- woman. In placing women in central roles Tarantino does quite a good job at representing these characters pretty fairly- every now and then they fall into an unfortunate stereotype but considering Death Proof often feels like it’s on the edge of being a parody or homage to earlier exploitation horror flicks then I’ll let that pass.

Visually it’s kind of strange, with a grainy film filter covering the screen and a weird moment of black and white right it the middle we could easily be fooled into thinking this film was made in the 70’s (even though it’s not)- but it kind of works. With bright colors and bold sets that jump out the screen in every other scene the filter acts as a buffer for our senses.

As this film comes to a close we’re treated to what I assume was about twenty minutes of an all- out intense car case, and I loved every minute of it. There’s no amazingly clever premise or ‘wow I can’t believe that’ twist behind Death Proof, it’s simply a silly, fun, intense horror flick that Tarantino succeeds in making an exciting watch.

4.5/5

Now On Netflix Review- The Babadook, 2014

Available now on Netflix UK

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Single mother, Amelia (Essie Davis), is struggling to look after her over- active son, Samuel (Noah Wiseman), in the wake of her husbands death. When Samuel finds a rather disturbing book on the shelf in his bedroom the Babadook stops being a child’s nightmare and begins to become a terrifying reality for this small family.

The film is a chilling look at the tangibility of grief and addiction. Prescription drugs and the fathers death become central to the the film, but they only subtly let us know what The Babadook is really about. It’s sad, it’s disturbing, and it’s relentless. We’re treated to scene after scene of the difficulties in raising a child when both mother and son are struggling with their own terrors. Samuel with his childhood fear of monsters, and Amelia with visions of her dead husband- both protagonists of this film play their roles extremely well.

The film does not give us any relief as we soon dive into the unnerving world of the Babadook. As a horror film The Babadook fulfills what it’s supposed to do- the whole thing is absolutely terrifying. There’s a spine- chilling atmosphere to the whole movie as we’re often trapped in the blue/ grey house with Amelia and Samuel. Director Jennifer Kent plays on the films mood extremely well, it’s frightening at the best of times- and absolutely terrifying in others.

Undeniably gripping, emotionally painful, completely relentless- The Babadook is a must see horror.

4.5/5

For the love of Werewolves

Since the release of Late Phases on Netflix UK my love for werewolf films has taken on a life of it’s own. While I have yet to see a single film that completely nails the look of the wolf- man, I have seen plenty werewolf films that still deliver something between terrifying and awesome. So with that said, here’s a list of werewolf films I’ve watched this year that I think do the genre justice.

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