THE SECRETS WE KEEP NEW website review by Vellu Khanna
The Secrets We Keep
'The Secrets We Keep' takes on a fresh view of post-war traumas and unfulfilled vendetta - and it does not await for the story to gather momentum, as we are presented with a gear-shifting stance within the first five minutes of its feature.
We see a young wife in an emerging town in the United States right after World War 2, running chores and errands as any other home-maker of the era. And then - a trigger is beset.
Scenes of the past emerge, bringing henceforth a weaving of a tale from a prison camp of Nazi Germany - the threading of the story moving through bouts of uncertainties and segments of gaps.
'The Secrets We Keep' is truly a psychological thriller that will keep you on edge, right from the movie's commencement to its 'twist-in-the-tale' climax.
Sophia Coppola’s career is unique for a young director – we’ve got to see her grow up through her films. We’ve seen the prodigal debut, the awkward debutante years and now we get to see the mature storyteller flourish and find herself with a skill and a talent that surpass her Oscar-winning father’s. Taking her cues from Woody Allen, John Cassavetes, and just a sprinkling of Blake Edwards, she casts New York City in its most beautiful performance to date.
On the Rocks was clearly written with Bill Murray firmly in mind. It is the story of author Laura who begins to suspect that her husband Dean is having an affair, though her suspicions are more fuelled by her eccentric art-dealer father Felix than any actual evidence. Murray is excellent (of course) – a performance that seems almost a summary of his career, with nuanced aspects of Spackler, Venkman, and Schwartz all subtly interlaced beneath his cool and still effortlessly Murray-esq surface. But the film is not about Murray’s character, and it is Rashida Jones who gives the standout work here. Supported by Marlon Wayans and Murray, she renders Laura with such perfect honesty and intimacy it is hard to take your eyes off her. She evokes the neurotic spouse that kindles fond memories of Dudley Moore in 10 and becomes the “straight-man” to Murray for the bulk of the picture before the climactic emotional revelations and transcends what one can call “acting” the way the lead male’s did in the Second-Golden-Age-era cinema that Coppola was so clearly inspired by.
The actors are in fabulous hands – Coppola pulls her camera right back and frames every shot to give them absolute freedom to the point where the viewer’s screen seems to become a window through which we see very real life stories unfold – the zenith of any filmmaker’s skill. She is at the absolute top of her game here.
FOUR KIDS AND IT NEW website review by Vellu Khanna
Four Kids and It
This would be an ideal summer flick that you could enjoy with your family.
A feel-good movie that illustrates the child in every one of us, owing much to an ensemble of talents unsurpassed in the contemporary British cinema, 'Four Kids and It' revolves around a mystical wish-fulfilling creature called Psammead, who had made a beach as his home for over a hundred million years. Seemingly enough, four children, while being on a family vacation on that very beach, stumble upon this luminous being, and a series of mishaps tinted with a humorous past begin to shape.
The movie boasts an epic starline - Michael Caine, Russell Brand, Paula Patton and Matthew Goode. With a gratuitous mix of an interesting storyline, 'Four Kids and It' is undoubtedly a feature of comic relief and of the bond of family that anyone could appreciate.
BECKY Home Alone meets Kill Bill in this macabre gore-fest, but never lives up to its potential.
I went into this movie with one impression: the critics hate it but movie audiences like it, and I can see exactly why that’s the case. As someone who falls somewhere in the middle between movie critic and general audience, I’ll admit that I’m drawn in by the ludicrousness of this story, but it never becomes a good story. It relies on predictable tropes and half-baked rationale to sell the plot, sabotaging what could otherwise have been the sort of excessive, overblown action we idolise in films such as Kill Bill and A Clockwork Orange and every zombie movie ever.
This movie starts out normal enough. Thirteen-year-old Becky Hooper (played in a strangely quite charming way, despite all the killing, by Lulu Wilson) is angry at her dad and angry at the world after her mother has passed away, and in an effort to rekindle their relationship, her dad (the ever-loveable Joel McHale) decides to take them both away to the lakehouse for a weekend. For some reason, he has also decided that this is the perfect time to also land Becky with the news that he is seeing someone new, and oh, by the way, his new girlfriend, Kayla (Amanda Brugel), is also coming for the weekend with her son Ty (Isaiah Rockcliffe). Needless to say, tensions are high and silences are very awkward for this oddball soon-to-be family. This sets the stage for the main part of the story – Dominick (Kevin James) has escaped prison with his own ‘family’ of followers, and is looking for a key that he hid before being incarcerated; this key, he hints, unlocks the secrets of racial purity, which Dominick finds very important because he is a Nazi. Apparently he has been planning to escape prison and find the key for years, perhaps even decades, and his plan involves imprisoning the Hooper family in their home while he searches for it. Unfortunately he doesn’t account for the extent of Becky’s thirst for revenge, especially after she watches her father tortured and murdered in front of her. Cue a long and blood-soaked crusade as Becky becomes the terrifying and merciless child-assassin that no child has ever dreamed of being. This is a movie that goes from zero to 100 in the blink of an eye, and revels in its grisly brutality. It’s the sort of movie that attracts a cult following, but never achieves commercial success. Unfortunately, while it aspires to sit alongside other cult classics, such as A Clockwork Orange, there are far too many inconsistencies, and the plot itself is too flimsy, for it to ever be considered part of that category.
Becky’s biggest fault is in its writing. From the premise to the characters to the whole reason why anything happens, there are far too many times when I had to suspend disbelief for me to enjoy it for what it is. The story tries very hard to sell the idea of a little girl forced into a horrific and bloodstained massacre, but never quite hits the mark. Dominick’s Nazi brotherhood of fellow escaped convicts feels like a half-hearted attempt to explain why all of these wanted criminals are working together. Even some of the murder scenes have been poorly written and directed, with characters standing around, apparently just waiting for Becky to execute them. One of the convicts spends five minutes floundering in a lake, without doing anything, before the vengeful spirit that is Becky slices up his face with a boat propeller. So while I can enjoy this movie to an extent, and appreciate the idea behind it, which is unusual and unconventional, overall it feels too flimsy, unbelievable, and gratuitous. Putting the final nail in the coffin was reaching the end of the movie, and realising that the purpose of the key – the whole reason Dominick held this family hostage, tortured and shot a man, and tried to murder a young girl – wasn’t going to be explained. Talk about McGuffin! At least the characters seem to understand the ludicrousness of the situation - Amanda Brugel’s character puts it succinctly when she says, “What the eff was the point of all this?”
AFTER WE COLLIDED NEW website review by Max Davine
Look, fan fiction is fine in the way that cotton ball fetishes are fine. Do it for yourself. But please don’t ever let it go mainstream. Some academics classify Paradise Lost as fan fiction – but we’re not talking about epic poetry or John Milton here. Not by a loooooooong shot.
Jenny Gage’s adaptation of Anna Todd’s 2014 literary masturbation “After” is fantastic in that it perfectly demonstrates why fan fiction has its place. Its quiet, dark, out-of-the-way place. The plot is generic – gorgeous but (obviously) virginal (despite a boyfriend) Tessa goes off to a mythical college that accepts its student body based on the photoshoots they did for the lingerie section of the K-Mart catalogue where she meets seemingly pre-pubescent pouty boy with fake tattoos whose purpose to the story is demonstrated early by his name literally being hard-on. Tessa, meanwhile, wants to do well in school but has no distinct dreams or ambitions. But she’s imaginative enough to see her ideal boyfriend (clearly not the one she already has) locked deep within whiny drama-boy’s pouty veneer.
This sort of Sunday-afternoon soap-opera cinema has its place and can be done timelessly well – see 10 Things I hate About You. It can also be done the way Gage has done it. After nearly two minutes of logos we meet vapid characters we care nothing about, we hear the same (awful) song recur three times in the eight minutes that follow the logo-marathon, and then we get to see good girl (you can tell because she wears a long skirt, see) gradually show a little more shoulder and a little more leg and eventually cheat on her boyfriend. Oh, and whiny-boy cries about his father getting married. Because that’s – you know – terrible…
There are also lesbian scenes you know you wanted to see and an extraordinary stretch of brooding silence between every single sentence the characters speak to each other. It’s like the screenwriter just fell in love with the parenthetical direction (long pause)
A modern-day depiction of Victor Hugo's triumphant piece of the mid-19th century, Les Misérables brings to life the palpable nature of a duo team of corrupt police officers in Paris, France. The movie begins with a new recruit to that team, and of the course of events that surrounds his first day on the job, with the storyline nudged forward through the misdemeanour of a youngster who resides with his family in the projects.
The profundities of the mechanics of any city's underbelly is shown in vivid clarity - the audience is bound to have aroused a sense of moral query with the scenes and the characters of the movie. The cinematography poised by the movie, tied together with astounding directorship, presents a differing view of the city that is synonymous with romance and progress.
Though many would deem it to be a cliché, this version of a feature film revolving on levels of corruption in the police force, is aptly to be told once again. The contemporary audience is awarded a revisit to Victor Hugo's Les Misérables in such a fresh light.
DING DONG I AM GAY. wow, what a spectacular webseries! It is a show full of laughter and with awesome punch lines. The story line is so well written! Some dialogues are stamped in your mind. It’s very original series and we all can connect to it at one or another point. It focuses mainly on the gay community while it’s still seen as taboo for so many countries and places. I believe that the series like "Ding Dong I am Gay" is a flag barrier supporting and educating to propel that we are all humans who have t orespect each other's beliefs and that we all have same feelings and emotions. "Ding Dong I am Gay" series are very well played by the whole cast, the directorship and the story line is amazing and funny. We on the behalf of BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY CLUB AND MAGAZINE would like to congratulate the whole team of the Show wishing you all lots of great success and we can’t wait to see the upcoming episodes. Thank you! Amit Singh
An Australian feature, Blood Vessel is an amazing gift for those who crave a good horror story, wrapped with a bow of history surrounding that of a famed monster of modern-day literature.
A period-flick which highlights events set at the trail-end of World War II, we see a group of survivors stranded in the ocean, only to be saved by a ghost ship with seemingly no survivors. They embark on an investigative track, and, over the course of the movie, discover a certain truth which is laced with both terror and legend.
Blood Vessel is a production which seems to have spared no expense, offering a grandiose framework of movie effects, brilliant acting and wonderful story-telling. This is a must-watch for the season.
Nothing prepared me to what I would experience when I clicked on a link to watch Deerskin movie. I had a task to write a review and the film started rolling nicely with a scene of a man driving his car while listening to Joe Dassin beautiful song. He arrived at a country house with a purpose to buy a unique richly frilled leather jacket that was advertised for sale. The man paid a huge amount of money for it because he desperately wanted it to be a real deerskin item which gave him ‘a killer look’. The seller was surprised with such a generous payment and presented the buyer with a gift: a video camera - “as new”. This buyer, named Georges, was played by Jean Dujardin whose memorable role in the movie Artist brought him Academy Award for Best Actor in 2012.
Georges’ excitement with this jacket felt ‘over the top’ which became even stranger when he began talking to it. The story continued by his arrival to a remote village where his only company in his hotel room was his jacket. As Georges spent all his cash on the jacket he could not pay for the hotel until the next day, and he gave his golden wedding ring to the hotel guard as a security. Next morning, he went to withdraw money from the bank. But Georges was told that his account was blocked by his wife. When he called her the woman said to him “you don’t exist”. It looked like their marriage was on the rocks but obviously Georges did not take it seriously.
Since that moment his behaviour became weirder by the day.
When Georges mentioned to the hotel manager that he gave his wedding ring as a security to the previous day guard, the manager told him that the guy just committed suicide. Georges went to look at the corpse. Without any emotions he took the guard’s hat, read the label ‘deerskin’ and put it on himself. Then he tried to remove his wedding ring from the guard’s finger. Without hesitation he leaked the dead finger and pulled the ring off.
In his room Georges made ‘conversations’ with his jacket asking it about its dream. The jacket ‘wanted’ to be the only jacket in the whole world. Georges shared this idea as he wanted to be the only person in the world who was wearing a jacket. No one else!
Meanwhile Georges tried to use video taking some shots and introduced himself as a film director to Denise, a waitress in the bar. She shared with Georges that she loved editing movies – just for herself. As an example, she mentioned that she took “Pulp Fiction” and changed scenes in it, so it looked better than in Tarantino version. Having no money Georges lied to Denise about his crew filming in Siberia as if they could not send him money for some reasons. So, he offered Denise to hire her as an editor for his ‘movie’ and gave her a few cassettes with his totally unprofessional filming. However, Denise found them interesting and asked him to do more videos.
Meanwhile, his mental state deteriorated. Georges drove around and when he saw younger people, he offered them to play a scene in his movie. For that, they had to remove their jackets and put them in his car boot. He pretended filming, and then suddenly left the place with people’s jackets in his boot. He was doing those rounds again and again. From time to time he noticed a teenager who stood nearby watching him. That irritated Georges. He tried to wave to the boy to go away, but the boy did not move. Then Georges grabbed a heavy brick and hurled it right to the boy’s head causing him terrible injury. All those filmed materials he brought to Denise and she encouraged him to do more filming praising his videos. She supported him with money and drinks and was telling him that their movie would be success.
She also supported his craziness about deerskin buying him pants and gloves, all from deerskin leather.
Sinking deeper in his madness Georges cut a huge sharp blade from a ceiling fan and began killing his victims in order to take their jackets. And he continued filming that. Denise asked him to bring more scenes like that ‘with more blood’. It became apparent that it was Denise who was a moving force behind that killing spree. She needed it to create her own masterpiece that would excel Tarantino. Soon she decided that it was enough material for her movie. She told Georges that she knew from the beginning that he was not a filmmaker. Denise also got a lot of money from her father to realise her dream to be a producer.
Therefore, only close to the end of the movie it became clear that although Georges committed terrible killing the real horror figure was Denise. She was a girl, looking plain and simple who skilfully used the man who was losing his mind to realise her dream of creating a movie out of those blood chilling crime scenes.
They drove to the countryside. Georges was running and dancing and yelling to Denice “film me, film me’. Suddenly a shot rang out and Georges fell to the ground, dead.
A man with a rifle got back to his car and sat next to his son with bandaged head, the same teenager who was injured by Georges.
The Deerskin is a genuine arthouse film with a gradually building momentum where the viewers could observe a process of deteriorating of the mind. Georges is a scary madman, but a real danger is a humble-looking Denise, played by Adèle Haenel, obsessed with a desire to be a film producer. She manipulates Georges pushing him into deeper craziness as she needs him to commit and film more of his crimes. French writer/director and musician Quentin Dupieux created a movie of the unique genre: a horror-comedy. And that is what I have seen indeed!
Film: Calm With Horses Director: Nick Rowland Independent film set in Ireland Released in Australia : 23 July 2020 Starring: Cosmo Jarvis, Barry Keoghan, Niamh Algar Length: 1hr 41 Review: Sherry Westley This film really surprised me by how unexpectedly interested in and drawn to the main character I was, right from the opening scene where he muses on his childhood and violence in general. With an imposing physical presence and an emotionally disengaged view of his own violence,(“there’s no hatefulness in it..... sometimes it’s just a way of making sense of the world”), we are engaged and curious about him from the beginning. Set in rural Ireland, Douglas Armstrong (The Arm, The Lapdog, The Halfwit),is an enforcer and intimate of a lower class drug dealing family, the Dévers. He lives with the Devers and regards them as “family” he owes loyalty to. He is separated from his five year old autistic son Jack and his ex partner Ursula. Douglas is a fascinating enigma for us. We puzzle over the cool, business like and submissive way he deals out physical punishment at the Devers’ bidding, contrasted with his love for Jack and respect for the strong and positive Ursula. Is Douglas submissive,simple, complex, good or bad? Possibly all of those. But we certainly are on his side and the edge of our seats as we see him struggle with these conflicting traits,in the dangerous “family” circle in which he exists. The photography is atmosphericlly bleak, cloudy, threatening.The three main actors extremely convincing. But you will have to concentrate on the dialogue, the accents are very local. Based on Colin Barrett’s short story of the same name, the script was written by Joe Murtagh and produced by Daniel Emmerson. It has achieved a score of 94% on Rotten Tomatoes and 6.8/10 on IMDB. The amazing lead actor, Englishman Cosmo Jarvis, has four films coming out in 2020. If you don’t already know Cosmo Jarvis, you soon will. Likewise, debuting feature film director Nick Rowland, who is an awarded short film director. Calm With Horses is a totally absorbing crime drama. But it is the first class acting and direction which lifts it into a compelling and poignant story of the complexities and choices of a simple, likeable man. See it if you can.Yes there is violence, but there is so much more to admire and enjoy in watching Calm With Horses
review by Vellu Khanna
A movie that presents coherence in the strain that everyone feels every now and again, 'CalmWithHorses' toys with the sense of justice and fairness in an Irish family (i.e. the Devers) which deals with criminal and underworld activities.
The main protagonist is a retired boxer, Douglas "Arm" Armstrong, who is seen trying to balance his job as the muscle of the Devers family and that of being a father to his autistic son. As the plot unfolds, we see an emotionally-torn Douglas question the direction pointed by his own moral compass.
'CalmWithHorses' illustrates exactly what brilliant acting is, with several high-tension scenes and clever cinematography to boot.
Brian Wilson, Tom Petty, Ringo Starr, Eric Clapton, Graham Nash and other iconic rock musicians discuss the creative explosion of Los Angeles folk rock scene in the mid-60s in the documentry called Echo in the Canyon. The film was directed by Andrew Slater, a former music journalist, producer and label executive. The film focuses on the influence of the ultimate "California sound" enshrined by artists such as the Beach Boys, the Byrds, Buffalo Springfield and the Mamas and the Papas.
Throughout the video, songwriters reminisce about the interchange in sound that took place during this fertile period in music, when groups visited each other, performed unfinished songs and inspired each other's music. “California was like this legendary paradise,” Petty says before plugging in his signature Rickenbacker electric guitar. “Laurel Canyon has become this paradise,” Clapton recalls. Starr notes that he "fell in love" with the scene.
Jakob Dylan recalls the last interview with Tom Petty for the film... When he and his old friend and former Wallfowers manager, music industry veteran Andrew Slater set out to make Echo in the Canyon, they recruited an impressive Rock legends. Tom Petty is another important role in this movie, but Dylan and Slater certainly didn’t know that this would be his last official camera interview. Petty Yu passed away on October 2, 2017. He was sitting in the Truetone Musical Instrument Store in Santa Monica, talking excitedly about Byrds, The Beatles and the California Dream. These scenes captured the heart of this man. Now we watch at these scenes: it's inevitably bittersweet, which is understandable. "This is obviously far-reaching. Dylan said: "We didn't expect that this would be the last time he was interviewed in front of the camera... This is very unfortunate, and I certainly hope that is not the case." "But of course I am grateful, I am glad I believe him the last time (interview) is not painful, and he really had a good time-for people like him or me, this (interview) is not always pleasant!" He came here politely and talked about him: like the music, he likes the music we played for him, and he kindly gave us a day, which is cool... "I remember that was a great day. For me, it was probably the most interesting time of the (shooting) day," Dylan continued. "Maybe it's because Tom Petty and I spent some time in the guitar shop, and at the same time in the guitar shop-I like both of these things!" He seemed to have a good time, obviously, he was, the kind of people who can't drive to the music store often, so we closed this store. This is a great opportunity, even if it is not in the movie-just walking with him and talking about the equipment, it is great. "
Slater as I mentioned is the director of Echo in the Canyon, and Dylan is the executive producer. Their conversation about "bad things" is exiting. Look, when people are making special effects, amplifiers, and musical instruments, they are suitable for all kinds of music and all kinds of people. Sometimes when we become more modern and mass-produced, these things are not as well constructed as other things! So, their comments are very interesting. " Most of the artists involved in Echo in the Canyon of the 1960s, as mentioned above, or Dylan’s peers, like Fiona Apple (whose first album Tidal is by Slater), Baker, Regina Spektor, Cat Power, Stoneware. The era of Josh Jie Ao, Queen Nora Jones, and ex-Edward Sharp & Magnetic Zero singer Jade Castrinos, they all joined Dylan on the stage and reproduced the classic songs of the era movie soundtrack in the studio. But Petty offers a unique perspective. During his career, Petty has reported on the Bird Brothers songs "So You Want to Be and Rock'n' Roll Star" and "I'll Feel Better" (I'll Feel a Whole Lot Better) and cooperate with McGinn.
Dylan explained: “It’s obvious that Petty started listening to this song when he was a teenager, and he understood this song better than most people who have studied it in retrospect.” “He lived (in the 1960s). It was very powerful for him as a teenager. Obviously, he appreciates that kind of music very much. He is very important to us in this movie. You have people who are really there, creators. There ae people like us who belong to this generation; we studied, we went back to learn to appreciate music. But then, Tom Petty's generation was actually a teenager, so we wanted to capture that perspective too."
Although the second-generation musician Dylan comes from a rock family - Petty's father was the son of Wilbury County band member Bob Dylan - he said that Petty was the only young person interviewed by Echo. The artists he knew, he only met when he was an adult. He smiled and said: "I saw that I have already hinted that this movie has some (childhood connection) with me... I think this is a misunderstanding, and that everyone has such a person who stays at home all day." "I know it sounds like we are, maybe, at Monkees's house or somewhere else, but..."
Therefore, I have to ask whether it is daunting to take over this 60s song for young Dylan. There is a scene in the movie. When he was recording "In My Room" by The Beach Boys, Brian Wilson was in the room. There was also a scene when he played back Michelle Phillips in the studio. When mom and dad cover. "I didn't think too much. In hindsight, sitting there and doing that sounded pretty bold!" Dylan admitted. "I think we have a common friendship. No matter what happens, we are on the same team. I can see that they are encouraging people. I don't think there will be any snickers or similar things. Anyway, I think when someone is singing your song is a compliment, I think we did them very faithfully, and we respect them very much. If we tear a song to pieces and really turn it upside down and insult someone, we might feel more pressure!"
Echo in the Canyon (PG) – 89 minutes – by Alex First
If you are a music buff, it would be hard not to get excited by the trip down memory lane that is Echo in the Canyon.
This is a reverential documentary and accompanying riff about the Southern Californian sound that produced some of the best folk-rock bands.
I am talking about the likes of The Beachboys, The Byrds and The Mamas and the Papas, to name but three.
We’re in LA’s Laurel Canyon in the mid 60s as folk went electric and creativity hit a new high.
The Beatles were most certainly influenced by it.
Some of the biggest names in the music business reflect upon the times that they were such a big part of.
I speak of Eric Clapton, Ringo Starr, Graham Nash, Stephen Stills and Michelle Phillips, among others.
They chew the fat with Jakob Dylan (Bob’s son), lead singer and primary songwriter for the Wallflowers, who also reproduces the sounds of the mid 60s with a series of contemporary artists, names such as Beck, Cat Power and Regina Spektor.
Echo in the Canyon also gives us access to never-before-seen footage of the stars in their heyday.
Famed record producer Lou Adler speaks adoringly of Laurel Canyon as close to Sunset Strip but with a beautiful country feel.
Phillips, from The Mamas and the Papas, says it was a hangout for bohemians and actors, full of charming little houses – a joyful time.
Clapton, on the other hand, was attracted to eccentrics and they were all there.
David Crosby describes the music of the day as “putting good poetry on the radio”.
So, apart from the sound, it was the song writing that distinguished the times and the place.
Rickenbacker was the first known maker of electric guitars and it ruled the roost in the swinging 60s.
The 12-string Rickenbacker was a favourite of The Beatles and Roger McGuinn of The Byrds, the latter of whom turns back the clock with an impromptu performance.
While The Beatles’ Rubber Soul album resulted in The Beachboys’ brilliant front man Brian Wilson writing Pet Sounds, it – in turn – inspired The Beatles Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.
That is touched on in Echo in the Canyon.
The master of cool, a great muso in his own right and a ready listener, Jakob Dylan is the perfect host for a doco such as this, which dips its lid to what went down more than 50 years ago.
And some of the biggest artists of the day are more than happy to trip the light fantastic once more.
It may have been the music of a generation, but those sounds have well and truly stood the test of time, to which Echo in the Canyon attests.
You don’t mess with perfection, merely honour it and Dylan – with writing credits to Eric Barrett and Andrew Slater, and direction from the latter, the former CEO of Capital Records – does just that.
It is available on 5th August, 2020 on digital and on demand. I speak of platforms including Apple, Microsoft, Google, Fetch and PSN.
Fear of the unknown is a powerful driving force in many horror movies. A half-concealed monster, a person who is acting strangely, or a shadow that shouldn’t be there – these ideas fuel nightmares and pave the way for thrilling scares. It is all too easy to get carried away, though, and THE VIGIL is a good example. Overall, this is an okay horror movie, and a decent movie in its own right. It suffers mostly from trying too hard to be a horror; the whole movie has been plunged into a moody darkness in post-production that actually lessens the impact of jump scares rather than heightening them. That fear of the unknown is overused to the point of muddying the scenes where it could have been most forceful. Many times, I could barely make out what was going on because, apart from a few isolated pools of light, the rest of a scene would be shrouded in absolute darkness. In a movie which relies heavily on visual elements with little dialogue, it is disappointing to have those few elements we are given be hazy and dark.
Dave Davis does a truly impressive job in his role as main character Yakov Ronen. He carries the movie very well considering he is alone in 90% of the scenes. I was so invested in his journey through anguish, and he was a particular reason that I kept watching. Alongside him, Lynn Cohen fulfills her role as the unsettlingly knowledgeable Mrs Litvak almost too well; I could hear the smile in her voice as she delivered delightfully unnervy lines to an increasingly agitated Yakov. As the only characters to appear for most of the movie, they moved things along very well.
A particular mention has to be made for the musical score. Composed by Michael Yezerski, it is not often that I notice the music in a horror movie, since it is often little more than dramatic bass when a jump scare is imminent. However, Yezerski delivers a wonderfully fresh composition that I wish I could have heard in surround-sound in a movie theatre, rather than bursting out of my tinny laptop speakers at home.
This movie takes a simple premise – monster that feeds on another’s fear and pain – and invites us to consider it from a new perspective. Different elements of Orthodox Judaism and its culture within New York City are explored through the eyes of one tortured soul. As Yakov comes to terms with his own internal demons, he also comes to terms with his identity, and how that identity coincides with the people around him. It is an interesting exploration, especially within the context of a horror movie, and one that leant a new take on a classic horror idea. I quite enjoyed this movie, despite its flaws. If only Yakov had turned on the lights once in awhile, I would have been more scared and enjoyed it more.
SHIRLEY BEST MOVIE OF THE MONTH website RATE: 9/10
It is one horror story of creative madness and female solidarity. This is the story of how American writer, Shirley Jackson became practically the heroine of her own disturbing prose on the screen.
In 1948, The New Yorker magazine published the story "The Lottery", a short story about how the inhabitants of a small town gather in the main square on a clear summer day and choose a victim by lot, a man who will be stoned for the welfare of the entire community. The procedure is described as completely mundane: people are afraid to draw out the unlucky ticket with a black mark, but no one asks any questions. Collective ritual is more important than individual death.
It is the "Lottery" that young Rose (Odessa Young) reads on the train, who, together with her husband Fred (Logan Lerman), a promising young philologist, is moving to Vermont. Since the couple does not yet have their own housing, they temporarily settle in with Bennington College professor Stanley Hayman (Michael Stulbarg) and his wife, writer Shirley Jackson (Elisabeth Moss). It was she who wrote "The Lottery", and therefore Rose really wants to meet her. However, a meeting with a literary idol turns into a disaster. Shirley is a self-proclaimed "witch" and the main target of urban gossip. She almost never leaves the house, drinks a lot and is openly rude to her embarrassed guests. The writer at first perceives Rose as an annoying hindrance, as another Stepford wife, concerned only with the welfare of her assistant professor. But the more time women spend together, the better they understand each other.
But who is Shirley Jackson? The classic of American literature of the 20th century, the writer who was named among the favorite authors of Stephen King, Richard Matheson and Neil Gaiman. Contemporaries, however, did not immediately appreciate her talent. After the publication of "The Lottery", the editorial board of "The New Yorker" was inundated with outraged letters. The volume of correspondence broke all records - employees said they had never received so many responses to a literary work. Many demanded to explain to them the meaning of the story. Jackson wrote in a separate article that she wanted to shock readers with "a graphic depiction of senseless cruelty and general inhumanity in their own lives." Her most famous work is "The Ghost of the Hill House", a gothic novel about a mansion in which the paranormal occurs. The book survived three adaptations, including the 2018 series, but only the first of them, released during the author's lifetime, was close to the original text. Two years ago, another film based on Jackson's late novel, "We Always Lived in the Castle", premiered.
In the film "Shirley", Josephine Decker's Shirley still doubts her ability to move from small to large literary forms. The action takes place in the late 1940s, when Jackson was working on her second novel, "The Hangman". The writer was inspired by a real incident that happened next door: Bennington College student Paula Welden went for a walk in the woods and disappeared. The girl's body was never found.
So, is this a biopic? Not really. Shirley Jackson was indeed married to literary critic Stanley Hayman; they lived in Bennington; she had a controversial reputation and suffered from neuroses. However, the film, based on the novel of the same name by Susan Scarfe Merrell, constructs a fictional image in which the real life of the writer is skillfully intertwined with the author's assumptions. Anything that can blur the plot is omitted or bracketed. This fate befell, for example, the children of Jackson and her husband, and, by the way, the couple had four.
Elizabeth Moss The initial alignment of forces, somewhat theatrical and reminiscent of the play "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" (two mature intellectuals, whose marriage has long turned into a marathon of mutual barbs, host dumb youths), the film changes rapidly. Men fade into the background. They disappear at lectures, seminars and literary club meetings. But all the most interesting things are not happening there, but in the house, which Shirley and Rose are forced to share. Unlike male characters, female characters literally carry the whole world in themselves: a new novel is born in the writer's head, and her pregnant guest, young Rose prepares for the appearance of her first child. Gradually, a connection is established between the two academic wives, the nature of which they, themselves cannot fully determine. It is a strange mixture of intellectual play, psychological manipulation, distinct sexual attraction, and genuine engagement. Shirley, who fought for a long time over the portrait of her mysteriously missing heroine, ends up giving her the features of Rose. The death of one woman in the process of creative creation will turn into the birth of another: the girl who came to Bennington as a supplement to her promising husband will leave there as a completely independent person.
How is it filmed From the previous film by Josephine Decker, "Madeleine Madeleine", it was already clear how much she was interested in the fragile line between the reality and the imaginary world. She, again erases this line in Shirley, also doing it visually. The film camera man was Norwegian Sturla Brandt Grövlen, who became famous after the release of the German crime drama "Victoria", masterly filmed in one shot. In this movie his camera is constantly in motion again and again, it comes close to the characters. In the space of the film, as well as in the space of the house, it is physically cramped, the heroines are obscured by some foreign objects. The periphery of the frame is often blurred, which creates the feeling of a sticky nightmare, dark horror, as if something invisible and elusive is happening there, on the sides. We can not see it, our minds can not comprehend it, our hearts beat, we can feel it on the tips of our fingers...
Michael Stoelbarg Shirley is obviously not limited to a portrait of a specific creative person. Shirley Jackson's "madness" is largely a reaction to the stifling framework of society, which prescribes a woman of that era to be interested first of all in the household and her spouse, and only then in everything else. Elizabeth Moss for her role as Jackson is simply obliged to get her first Oscar nomination. This is an incredible performance: her character - always disheveled, blurry, awkward, nervously reaching for a cigarette or a glass of wine - evokes both delight and disgust. Michael Stulbarg is wonderful in the role of a passive-aggressive husband-manipulator, who seems to support his wife, but does it in such a way that she does not imagine much about herself. Against the background of already established stars, the young Australian actress Odessa Young is not lost - after "Shirley" she should not have a shortage of interesting proposals. She is simply amazing!
Verdict Josephine Decker convincingly demonstrates how flexible the traditional genre of biographical drama can be. Shirley is a non-standard movie about a non-standard personality. Its impressionistic form perfectly matches the content: the writer, who wrote uncomfortable and frightening stories, herself turns out to be extremely uncomfortable, at times repulsive, but at the same time an endlessly attractive person. The film will surely take its rightful place in cinematography.
Elisabeth Moss and Odessa Young And finally, a story told by the film's operator. When Decker posed the problem to him, she asked the viewer to feel like being smashed between Shirley Jackson's breasts. This is probably the most accurate description of how you will feel when viewing this picture...
If you are looking for a straightforward, readily understandable narrative, then Shirley may not be the movie for you.
Instead, it is a left of centre, slow burn, dramatic thriller with a series of “look at me” performances and an arresting score.
It concerns a brilliant, intuitive, evocative horror writer – Shirley Jackson (Elisabeth Moss – The Invisible Man) – who is decidedly paranoid and her equally self-absorbed, feted university professor husband, Stanley Hyman (Michael Stuhlbarg – The Post).
Her illness manifests itself in her bizarre behaviour, which includes being sullen, angry (she frequently throws stuff), lack of social mores and deep fear of leaving home.
She doesn’t take kindly to company.
She is particularly unwelcoming and unpleasant to a young woman, Rose Nemser (Odessa Young – Celeste), who arrives with her husband, Fred (Logan Lerman – Fury).
Fred – also an academic who has completed his dissertation after years of work and is looking for tenure – and his wife intend to stay with this odd academic couple for only a few days while they arrange for a place of their own.
Shirley – who seems obsessed with death – immediately senses that Rose is pregnant and gives her reasons for concern.
The professor, meanwhile, prevails upon the couple to stay longer and for Rose to look after the housekeeping – which Shirley is incapable of doing – in return for room and board.
Shirley’s latest obsession is writing a book – something the Prof doesn’t feel she is up to – about the disappearance (and presumed death) of a female college student, Paula Jean Welden.
While Shirley’s incessantly aberrant behaviour remains a mainstay, Rose is intrigued by her and with Fred’s long hours away from home forms a bond with her.
The question remains whether Rose can really trust Shirley.
Further, what Stanley’s intent with Fred is, when – for all intents – he is playing him.
The mood throughout is one of disruption and unease.
Dream sequences, reading into the life and times of the college student who has gone missing and Rose taking on her persona are all part of the journey.
Moss does a fine job playing seriously deranged, as much through her withering looks as by virtue of the spoken word.
Stuhlbarg makes quite the impression as her boisterous, manipulative husband who sees himself as better and more gifted than others.
Arguably the hardest role to play is that of the naive young, pregnant wife who gradually becomes ensnared in Shirley’s bizarre life.
Young makes that persona plausible. She plays vulnerable and captivated with aplomb.
As Shirley the movie relies heavily on atmospherics, composer Tamar-Kali has undoubtedly added to the sense of dread with her expressive score.
The sets, settings and cinematography (the latter by Starla Brandth Grøvlen) add to the frenzied appeal.
Still, the obtuse nature of the script by Sarah Gubbins, based on a novel by Susan Scarf Merrell, and direction from Josephine Decker, will undoubtedly frustrate many.
Others, like me, though, will appreciate the creativity involved in crafting this troubling portrait of a woman on the edge.
It was nice to see a movie focused on the lives and loves of the older generation as I don’t think there are too many around. It wasn’t like your common romance movie, 23 Walks seemed true to life with a realistic story line. It centres around Dave and focuses on his life and his new ‘friend’ Fern. Their dogs, Tillie and Henry also play important roles in the movie which is nice especially if you’re a dog lover.
While I liked the idea of focusing on issues the older generation may face without it seeming too fabricated, I did find the movie rather slow. I wasn’t hooked on waiting to see what happens next and actually watched it in parts as I struggled to maintain focus. Even with my attention wavering, there were parts that made me smile, laugh and cry. If you’re looking for a gripping movie, this would not be something I’d recommend. However, if you want a slow paced movie this would be a good choice.
(The years is important to bear in mind as there is another movie Made in Italy, released in 2018)
Beautiful Tuscany is a location where we were taken to watch a soulful story about family ties and sentimental feeling that the main heroes experienced being bought back to their past.
The glamorous London artist Robert (played by Liam Neeson) and his estranged son Jack (Michael Richardson) made his come back to Italy with a purpose to quickly sell the house Robert inherited from his late wife.
The eternal theme of fathers and sons is permanent motifs trailed throughout the whole performance. To complicate matters, the house is in a terrible state. Therefore, a father and son, between whom there is no close relationship, will have to work together to sell their old Tuscan villa.
Step by step, they learn to understand and accept each other while both gradually developed fondness to that derelict but romantic place.
Initially renovations went wrong, with father and son argued endlessly. Realising his lack of skills in renovation, Robert was looking for help and found it when he met Kate (Lindsay Duncan), an expat making her living selling villas. She quickly captured his attention romantically.
For Jack, the villa represented memories of happier times with his mother. When he met young local woman Natalia (Valeria Bilello), an easy-going Italian chef, who run her local trattoria, another love story began. However, it was in jeopardy from Natalia’s jealous and threatening ex-husband.
Struggling from their lack of skills and experience Robert and Jack learnt how to restore the villa to its previous glory. At the same time, they learnt how to restore their relationship. With time and patience their life, for each of them became more fulfilling and agreeable. And happier!
In total, this is a light-hearted movie, kind of a soft romantic comedy with wonderful cast of actors. Quite enjoyable.
The film is written and directed by James D'Arcy. Made in Italy is his directorial debut.
review by Marina Sklyar
Oh money old money, never enough at any given time. They are the cause of break ups, love, war and peace. What would we do with or without them…?
Jack is getting a divorce, and is wanting to continue running a gallery owned by his ex-wife’s parents. To keep the gallery Jack had to buy it, as this Was the only option if he wanted to keep it.
He is Forced outside his comfort zone to approach his father to sell a family owned house in Italy. It was in Tuscany, a house which hasn’t been occupied for More than 20 years.
Coming home was never this frightening. Finding a deserted house , which is falling apart wasn’t what Jack was expecting.
Only having a month to renovate, and sell the task was just unreachable. Jack, had strolled to the shops and just like that bumped into Natalia who happened to be a beautiful young lady, the owner of the best Tuscany restaurant.
Natalia, helps Jack to make a conversation with his father and to find out all the lost puzzles of his childhood and the tragic death of his mother.
Robert Fostes, Jacks father who was a very successful artist before passing of his wife, finds in the house his old work, with memories and inspiration by Natalia, both man develop a relationship with Natalia, and unravels their grief and untold story of the past.
Though the discovered sketches by Jack, he re instates his childhood memories, he revalue his presence in life.
The destiny have chanced for both man, a father has found his son, and son has found his father.
An artist is born…
THE HOUSE OF CARDIN website review by Marygrace Charlton
Film Review: House of Cardin By Marygrace Charlton
Directors:P. David Ebersole, Todd Hughes
Producers:P. David Ebersole, Todd Hughes, Cori Coppola
It took me several viewings of this documentary to endeavour to absorb the full extent of the Pierre Cardin empire. Spanning 70 plus years, his talents seem to have no bounds.
Most people know the brand and iconic logo of Pierre Cardin but few know the man, the genius directing the successful business.
Originally, the brand was synonymous with haute couture. However, his modern, futuristic thinking and designs combined with his ability to evolve with the times, has led him down many paths. Not everyone is aware of the plethora of products (more than 800 from cookware to padlocks).
American directors P. David Ebersole and Todd Hughes were ardent fans of Pierre Cardin (“PC”) products long before they ever met him. Having bought “PC” furniture which they adored, for their new home in Palm Springs, followed by a car – a 1972 Javelin whose fixtures and trims were designed by “PC”, they decided to try and meet Pierre and to apprise him of their admiration. So in 2017 whilst in Paris presenting another of their documentaries, they did just that.
Call it divine providence, luck, the right place at the right time, the directors were indeed fortunate to gain “PC” consent to create this documentary, especially since Pierre will be celebrating his 97th birthday in 2020. Perfect timing! House of Cardin (the documentary) traces the far reaching career of a mastermind. It only touches lightly on his private life, respecting Pierre’s wishes.
Given exclusive access to “PC” archives (first to be permitted to do so), catwalk footage, interviews and the “PC” museum in Paris the directors have created an almanac of his working life. We (“PC” fans) are indeed fortunate that Pierre consented to this production giving the audience an overview of his remarkable business prowess.
Words of praise and testimonies from many celebrities - designers, models, musicians, singers, include Jean-Paul Gaultier, Sharon Stone, Philippe Starck, Naomi Campbell, Dionne Warwick, Maryse Gaspard.
Pierre’s fountain of youth is his drive, passion and energy to “work, work, work”. For him, work is liberating and a pleasure. He says he’s bored on holidays.
Well done directors! It’s an entertaining, informative tribute to the life of an extraordinary talent.
Thank you for the opportunity to view The Taverna. This is a film directed and written by Alkinos Tsilimidos. The movie was entertaining, as well as witty and engaging. It has been described as a black comedy of sorts. During these unprecedented times, especially here in Victoria, this yarn, Tsilimidos has so cleverly created has been just what the doctor ordered. I am hopeful that we can all soon go back to our lovely cinemas and also that others can have the chance to view, The Taverna, there. To me the show was intriguing, humorous in parts, and lighthearted in other segments.
The storyline is about an evening set within a Greek restaurant. Alkinos Tsilimidos's plot centres around the staff, who all have deeply personal issues that they are grappling with, in regards to their families and loved ones. Our characters evolve as the film progresses. It is quite the night, from catching possums, to kidnappings, of sorts, and belly dancing as entertainment. We are even privy to some dance training, in this regard. As the night unfolds we witness the staff's personalities, colourful and resourceful as they are, come to light.
Alkinos has said of the movie that it's based on a Tavern he has frequented. He informs us that " All the characters are based on people that I know and the idea was to simply place them inside a Greek restaurant for one night to see what could happen.” Tsilimidos has stated about his tale that “Their stories would evoke universal themes around love, migration and displacement ". " These people were in danger. They had to either face certain realities in their lives to enact change or be destined to live in some sort of delusion. This was to become the central theme of the movie.”
Going on further from that he describes that, he wants his viewers to feel a personal relationship with the characters in the narrative. The actors, I believe, did a very noteworthy job. The cast includes Vangelis Mourikis, Rachel Kamath, Senol Mat, Emmanuela Costaras, Emily O’Brien-Brown, Salman Arif, Tottie Goldsmith, Peter Paltos, Maria Mercedes . To me the Taverna is well worth a view. It is always a pleasure to see a Melbourne based show.
DONGS DON'T WEAR PANTS website review by Vellu Khanna
Dogs Don't Wear Pants
An interesting Finnish flick surrounding the life of an ordinary middle-aged man called Juha (played by Pekka Strang), who is a cardio-vascular surgeon at a local hospital, and of how one tragic event leads him down a spiralling chain. Down, in fact, onto the hands of a dominatrix by the name of Mona (Krista Kosonen).
The movie depicts several instances of utmost despair, in which the invoking of Dante Alighieri's 'Divine Comedy', is a fitting parallel to the storyline.
With a fantastic sense of cinematography and the use of colours, the director has brought out every hue of dark and twisted emotions - and, ultimately, of reliving the one, joyous moment that defines our very lives.