Pennywise the clown has arguably become one of horror’s most enduring monsters, both in literature and on screen, and the character immortalised by Tim Curry in Tommy Lee Wallace’s creepy 1990 adaptation of Stephen King’s It has been reborn once more. 27 years on from the iconic feature and Pennywise returns to haunt another generation’s nightmares, with Bill Skarsgård taking on the terrifying clown duties this time around. So iconic is the 1990 miniseries in TV and cinematic folklore, that taking on a new imagining of the tale was always going to be met with a sense of skepticism and trepidation that went beyond just the representation of the titular monster. With Andy Muschietti bringing his view of horror honed from his previous work on features such as 2013’s Mama, the film was placed in the hands of an up and coming director very capable of creating the level of unease It requires. The reception has been good to what’s been produced here too, and so it seems that Pennywise will continue to endure as a figure of nightmare for some time yet. Continue reading
Following on from the largely poorly received Noah (2014), Darren Aronofsky has returned with a twisted, dark psychological and pseudo-religious tale of growing madness in the midst of incomprehensible chaos. Mother! is Aronofsky working in his best element, delving into uncomfortable psychology and layering them within challenging and nightmarish scenarios. Despite taking on religious themes, this is more akin to the successes he had with Black Swan (2010) and his horrifically bleak vision in Requiem for a Dream (2000), than that more recent box office flop and convoluted biblical study Noah. Despite playing to his strengths, the film has divided opinion, there have been many varying takes on this film; its themes, ideas and interpretation, and the reviews have swung wildly from sublime to abysmal. Whatever your take on it, it’s fair to admit that in its divisiveness it has been the subject of some very interesting discussions. From an artistic perspective, it could be argued that it has succeeded in at least challenging audiences to look beyond the film into wider interpretations and meanings, and to consider its themes perhaps more than they’re comfortable doing. Continue reading
When Matthew Vaughn first brought the little known graphic novel series Kingsman to the big screen back in 2014 with Kingsman: The Secret Service, the result was a surprise hit. It viewed like a James Bond film as if it was written by and for teenage boys. It was a little crude, but it blended nicely with the gentlemanly aspect of the Bond spy tropes that were well established and much parodied. The end result was a piece of fairly likeable cinematic fun. It kept its tongue firmly in its cheek throughout, and therein lay its charm; it knew what it was and kept to it. Additionally, as an origin story it had the scope to introduce us to a whole set of characters and gizmos that went along with the general atmosphere of the film. So what of the second chapter? Could they keep that sense of likeable fun without treading on the first film? Could they replicate the characters, the sense of humour and the overall style without repeating themselves? It may not be an easy process to make a successful second installment, but it’s do-able. But does The Golden Circle successfully navigate this follow up balancing act or just stumble over its original accomplishment into a crumpled heap?
The existential story of a ghost watching the world he knew pass by around him, trapped in a timeless imprisonment inside the house he shared with his wife is a bold and fascinating premise for a film. David Lowery writes and directs this haunting paranormal bildungsroman and A Ghost Story is a beautifully crafted piece of filmmaking. It is poignant and emotive, growing slowly into its story and by extension slowly takes a hold inside your mind. The beauty of the film is that it deals with our human fears of life and death, it speaks to that part of our minds that understands these topics even if we successfully compartmentalize them in our daily existence. Continue reading
“Apes together, strong.” Led by Caesar, the trilogy of prequels in the Planet of the Apes series reaches its epic finale, with the remaining humans increasingly becoming the aggressors as they take the fight to the Apes. If ever there’s an example of a trilogy going from strength to strength, this is it. Since Rise of the Planet of the Apes back in 2011, this trilogy has grown in scope and has got ever better, culminating in this stunning finale. Every trilogy needs a strong finale, and this trilogy has its perfect ending. It’s a beautifully crafted film, expertly bringing in new characters, developing aspects of humour to break the growing tension, adding a wider folklore to the story, and framing it all with a walkthrough tour of war film and epic cinema iconography. This is a Vietnam war film set to the backdrop of science fiction apocalypse with nods of Biblical epics thrown in for good measure, and as curious a mix as that sounds, it truly comes together beautifully to create a film of rare scope and brilliance. Continue reading
Let’s be honest, when the news broke that there was going to be an animated movie based on the lives of emojis it was met with at best dubious reactions. The multiple little pictures that litter our digital conversations don’t immediately sound like an engrossing subject matter for any film. But could the filmmakers do the unthinkable and execute an entertaining film about pictograms? Well, that would be an emphatic no. Mainly because they barely tried. What they’ve made instead is an empty, vacuous corporate advert for apps, supposedly designed to speak to a young generation who they think so little of that they believe them incapable of relating to anything other than their phone screen.
“War is hell,” and in the hands of Christopher Nolan, rarely has that hell ever been shown with such humanity and authentic struggle. Taking on the infamous Dunkirk beach evacuation of 1940. The retreating British and French soldiers – surrounded by enemy Germans – found themselves trapped and cornered in the city of Dunkirk with their backs against the expanse of the Channel, so close to home, and yet so far away. It is that sense of fear, fatigue and defeat amongst the soldiers caught up in the horrific setting that Christopher Nolan focuses on in his presentation of this military disaster.
In now expected Nolan style the film takes on the story in innovative fashion, structuring it across three different overlapping timelines all eventually converging to the same point. The first part is titled ‘The Mole’ (taking place over one week), focusing on the narrow docking point that the navy’s evacuation ships were forced to use to pick up the stranded soldiers. The second timeline is ‘The Sea’ (taking place over one day), focusing in on the privately owned boats – commandeered by the Navy – which answered the call to make the perilous crossing of the channel, and into the battle to help transport the soldiers. Finally, there’s ‘The Air’ (taking place over one hour), taking us into the cockpits of the small band of RAF pilots tasked with fending off the swarming Luftwaffe who were circling the stranded allied forces, trying to pick them off and deliver a final hammer blow to their foes.