new releases

Docurary- New Release Review- Aileen Wuornos: The Selling of a Serial Killer, 1993

Available from the 1st January on Netflix UK

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At times Aileen Wuornos: The Selling of a Serial Killer seems to be more about the struggles of making a documentary when surrounded by difficult people than about what is ultimately a tragic, crazy story about a woman who turned to murder. While Broomfield’s documentary is interesting- and never boring- it’s also nothing new when it comes to true crime docs. The most interesting moments are when we are shown what it’s really like to make a documentary and the struggles film makers face when talking to people who, well, just don’t want to talk.

Aileen Wuornos was somewhat a media headliner after being dubbed Americas first female serial killer. If this isn’t already enough of a story Nick Broomfield is forced to abandon the usual role of ‘watcher’ and dive head first in his attempts to interview the people surrounding this story- including Wournos herself. At times we watch uncomfortably as Broomfield argues and becomes impatient with his interviewees who seem less than willing to help out (despite being paid for their time!). It’s very raw, it’s very real, and it’s very interesting from the angle of the making of a documentary.

The Selling of a Serial Killer focuses on Wuornos who while working as a prostitute killed only her male clients and at the time of her arrest (and while committing these horrific crimes) was in a relationship with a woman. Things start to get crazier when a Christian woman adopts her. Arlene Pralle, now the mother of Wournos, comes across as a fascinatingly fake character and Broomfield makes no attempt to make her appear genuine. We see what’s there, and what’s there is undeniably troublesome. Finally we have Steve Glazer a guitar wielding lawyer/Pralle’s agent (?) who has the weirdest advert for his services- they can only be described as looking like they’ve been stolen from Saul Goodman. Together Pralle and Glazer seem to be in it for the money, between press deals and demanding money to be part of Broomfield’s documentary the whole thing is rather shady.

While Broomfield’s documentary breaks no new ground in terms of story telling or with documentary as a genre it’s still an interesting watch. It’s an up close look at people, a journey into the reality of corruption, betrayal, and crime.

2.5/ 5

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Docu-rary 2016 – Making a Murderer- What is it? and why you should watch it.

Available now on Netflix

The Netflix original series, Making a Murderer, is making quite a splash across the globe. Moira Demos and Laura Ricciardi’s documentary, that took ten years and complete immersion into the community to film is currently one of the most controversial documentaries. From Reddit to News reports to the Anonymous hacktivist group it’s hard to shy away from the blaring show of support and anger this documentary has stirred up.

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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

New Release Review: Manson Family Vacation, 2015

Available from 27th October on Netflix UK

Manson Family Vacation is surprisingly funny and heartfelt. This charming film takes us along with two brothers on their bonding session- that just so happens to include the Charles Manson murder sites. After Nick (Jay Duplass) gets a long overdue visit from his wayward brother, Conrad (Linas Phillips), the film perfectly sets itself up for a charming but worrying brother dynamic. Jay Duplass is perfect in the lead role of this drama- comedy. In fact the off- beat humor in this film reminded me of another small- scale drama- horror film, Creep, staring Jay Duplass’s brother, Mark Duplass. See the trailer here.

However if the reveal towards the end was supposed to be a twist then it didn’t work for me, I figured it out very early on. Still, it was an engaging watch as the film beats forward at a steady pace and makes you feel exactly what you should, when you should.

Ultimately the film ends up in the place it felt like it was going, but not in a negative way. The end is satisfying as we hear exactly what these brothers needed to say to each other.

3.5/ 5

New Release: The Overnight, 2015

Available from 26th October on Virgin Movies/ EE / TalkTalk / Eircom / Amazon Instant Video / Google Play

Prosthetic penis’s everywhere and a cast full of comedy heavyweights (Adam Scott/ Taylor Schilling/ Jason Schwartzman/ Judith Godreche).

Okay so there isn’t that many penis’s but there are a lot of jokes and I was laughing through most of the film.

Patrick Brice’s The Overnight is an up close look at the swinger community, the highs, the lows, but it definitely isn’t judgmental. Brice takes this film to places many others wouldn’t go to and just when you think he’s crossed the line- he pulls it back. I would recommend this film for anyone looking for a laugh- even if some of them are pretty cheap. It’s an ‘adult film’ but not in that sleazy way.

Jason Schwartzman is, as always, hilarious- disclaimer: he is one of my favorite actors for no reason I can personally discover- but the whole cast is pretty strong. However there is more to this movie than comedy and penis’s, it deals with issues such as adulthood, loneliness, where bromance ends and romance continues and, yes, sex.

4/5

New release: Stonehearst Asylum, 2014

Available from 25th October on Netflix UK

Brad Anderson’s not- quite horror film Stonehearst Asylum is okay, however it does have an amazing cast to back it up. Ben Kingsley’s performance (playing Sylas Lamb) certainly commands something and Kate Beckinsale was beautiful but at times I felt like her performance boiled down to shocked face/ disappointed face. Apart from that, despite its cast, there wasn’t many performances that stood out- not for being bad, but not for being overwhelmingly great either.

The film it’s self is pretty engaging, there wasn’t a moment where I felt like I wanted to stop watching or where I got bored. The fact this film was a period piece certainly helped, and it left you at times not knowing who to root for. There’s also plenty of twists which would have added something to the film if I didn’t know them going in.

The end takes a pretty goofy turn but I’m not mad at it.

2.5/5

New Release: Cop Car, 2015

Avaliable from 19th October on Virgin Movies / EE / TalkTalk / Eircom / Amazon Instant Video / Google Play / blinkbox

Two boys (James Freedson- Jackson/ Hays Wellford) find a cop car in the middle of nowhere and take it for a joy ride. Of course things don’t go as planned when renegade cop (Kevin Bacon) finds out. Does he just want his car back or is there something more sinister going on?

I absolutely loved this movie. I am usually skeptical about child actors but James Freedson- Jackson and Hays Wellford play their roles perfectly. Cop Car had me on edge for the entire second half of the movie but I was hooked from the first scene- in fact the first fifteen minutes or so could be argued as the best bit of this movie. Two runaway boys finding a cop car, what could possibly happen? It’s simple, it’s dark and it’s great. Cop Car is the perfect combination of surprisingly dark moments fitted around some genuinely funny scenes with some real intense moments to top it off.

There’s no need to over complicate things with Jon Watts’ Cop Car, it is what it is and it does what it does- and it does it well. If you like thriller movies it’s a must watch, and it only stands at 86 minutes- which is a running time I like.

4/5

New Release: Knock Knock, 2015

Available from 19th October on Virgin Movies / EE / TalkTalk / Eircom / Amazon Instant Video / Google Play

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Eli Roth did a wonderful job on this movie. It’s trash, but it’s good trash.

I don’t know if this movie was supposed to be so funny, but I was laughing through a good portion of it. That may be why my review is pretty high for what it is- I just had fun watching it. There’s something about Keanu Reeves in this movie that is just hilarious, every reaction shot I was audibly laughing through the cinema like an idiot. I’ve seen comparisons to Nick Cage so that might be it.

Knock Knock is also pretty messed up. When Evan Webber (Keanu Reeves) is left alone things go terribly wrong when a good deed turns into a disastrous mistake. I mean, we all knew what was going to happen when two attractive women show up at the door looking for a party, and, lo and behold, slowly and surely Evan’s life is ruined. I don’t know if this movie deserves the rating I’m going to give it but, hey, I liked it.

Disclaimer: this movie may not be for everyone as when I watched it in the cinema I heard someone say, “Well, that was absolute shit!” when leaving.

3.5/5

Dark Shadows, 2012

Available from Thursday 15th October on Amazon Prime

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Tim Burton’s Dark Shadows starts with a boat docked in a gloomy England and I’m getting mad Sweeney Todd flashbacks. These were a lie. Dark Shadows just feels tired and gimmicky, the film it’s self struggling to make its way to the next scene trying to find a decent plot line and dragging on for far too long.

However there were some appealing aspects to this film, a Gothic stylized 70’s family was fun to watch, at least visually and I would be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy the soundtrack. Some of the humor comes across well also, Johnny Depp playing out- of- place (or should I say time haha.) vampire Barnabas Collins allows for some well placed jokes- which somewhat saved this film from total disaster. I just can’t help but think this movie had a lot more potential, and ended up delivering very little.

This movie felt like it was being directed by someone pretending to be Tim Burton, delivering exactly what you’d expect and not giving you any more.

2½ /5

Late Phases, 2014

Available from 13th October on Netflix UK

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Blind, retired, ex- military, shovel- wielding Ambrose McKinley (played by Nick Damici) doesn’t give a fuck. After moving to a retirement complex that backs onto a heavily wooded area things go terribly wrong in the form of animal attacks (or are they?). Ambrose, suspecting otherwise  – after hearing ‘once a month’, and ‘full moon’ – decides to buy up some silver bullets and spends a suspiciously long time burying his dog.

The movie feels more like a drama throughout, werewolves only being seen at the beginning and at the end of the movie. This really works. We get a teaser of the wolf- man, followed by a great portion of film in-between and finally the pay off- trying to lay off the spoilers but the end is totally worth it. Nick Damici is great in the lead role, and it certainly helped that his unlikable character was strangely the most likable person in the film.

“I’m done”

4/5