“The Killing of a Sacred Deer” Review

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The Killing of a Sacred Deer (2017)

This film proved to be the most divisive at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, and there was a good reason for the audience and critics to feel so confused and uncertain. “The Killing of a Sacred Deer” is a product of Yorgos Lanthimos, the director who is making his name as a master of original, unsettling and thought-provoking films; the director who is already an expert in crafting awe-inspiring settings which as much provoke as they disturb, and which the more mainstream audience could hardly even fathom. In “The Killing of a Sacred Deer”, a well-to-do surgeon (Colin Farrell) strikes an unlikely friendship with a fatherless boy, without even realising the possible negative consequences of their ever-closer union. A seemingly mundane plot here slowly transpires into something unimaginable, and with the excellent support from Nicole Kidman, and with impressive Barry Keoghan and Raffey Cassidy, this film becomes an almost brilliant interplay of the unusual, the menacing and the astonishing, while being totally effective throughout.

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Halloween Special: “Split” Review

split_ver4It is that time of the year again: time for trick-or-treating, pumpkin-carving, witches-watching and party-going! To celebrate the tradition which may date back to some ancient rituals of Celts, here is my review of the film “Split” from one of the front-men of the modern horror/thriller genre – M. Night Shyamalan (“The Sixth Sense” (1999), “Unbreakable” (2000), “The Village” (2004)). Also, to get you into the festive mood, you can check out my other reviews of horror films, all of them are listed here.

Split (2016)

This film is M. Night Shyamalan’s latest creation, which exceeded everyone’s expectations. Here, a man Kevin (James McAvoy) abducts three girls and holds them hostage in a building. Kevin suffers from a multiple-personality disorder, one of the most serious and rarest of all psychiatric illnesses. He has twenty-three different personalities, who compete for attention in his head, and the captive girls must race against time to free themselves before the emergence of the most frightening and uncontrollable twenty-fourth personality called simply “The Beast”. “Split” is very well-made, with the outstanding acting, especially by McAvoy, and a fascinating plot and topic. What about Shyamalan’s penchant for unbelievable twists, one may ask? Well, there are simply no twists, in a traditional sense of this word, or none to concern oneself when watching the film.

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The Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn Blogathon: The Philadelphia Story (1940)

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Crystal at In the Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood is hosting the Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn Blogathon, honouring the fantastic classic duo from the Hollywood’s brightest times, and my contribution is a short review of one of Hepburn’s most distinguished films:

The Philadelphia Story (1940)

George Cukor’s “The Philadelphia Story” is based on a Broadway play of the same name also starring Katharine Hepburn. In this film, Hepburn plays a rich socialite Tracy Lord, who is about to be married to George Kittredge (John Howard), after her previous marriage to a yacht designer C.K. Dexter Haven, played by Cary Grant, fell apart. Meanwhile, two reporters Mike Connor (James Stewart) and Liz Imbrie (Ruth Hussey) are secretly “planted” in the house of Tracy to spy on her and to try to cover the big wedding. Surely, they are helped in their endeavour by Tracy’s ex-husband Dexter, who still secretly hopes that Tracy will realise that their love was genuine and true. The gist of the comedy here is that Tracy knows about the true purpose of Connor and Imbrie, and her family puts on the show to impress and mislead the reporters. As Tracy flirts with Connor, the realisation of her mistake in the decision to marry Kittredge becomes more apparent. The great thing about this film, apart from its cast and performances, is the way it cleverly combines a witty story, involving a theatre of “appearances deceiving”, and the reflecting character study.

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“Mother!” Review

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Mother! (2017)

<<<I took care not to reveal any specific spoilers, but some discretion when reading is still advised>>>

Darren Aronofsky’s “Mother!”….I am happy to report that there is no need for some mass panic. “Mother!”  may start slow, but it proves to be a very enjoyable “descent” into sheer madness overall. The initial story here is Him (Javier Bardem) and Her (Jennifer Lawrence) settling into a married life in a country mansion, until one couple (Ed Harris and Michelle Pfeiffer) become their pestering lodgers against the wishes of Her. Ironically, the main flaw of Aronofsky’s psychological horror film “Mother!” is that it is not his first film. If it were, it would have been a masterpiece of achievement. Instead, “Mother!” is just the “recycling” of the elements/tricks present in Aronofsky’s previous films. How does this affect this film, one may ask? Well, Aronofsky’s “recycling” of his ideas reduces the overall effect, impact and unpredictability of “Mother!” by as much as 80%. “Mother!” formula is quite simple to understand. The film is structurally and archetypically “Black Swan” (2010) + touches of some “over-the-top” home invasion and “Rosemary’s Baby” (1968). This is all to it. And, where it is not all, it also incorporates, quite evidently, Aronofsky’s artful orange-colour bursting creativity and philosophy we have all previously seen in “The Fountain” (2006) and biblical/allegorical references. The saddest thing here is that the film is quite entertaining and even brilliant in parts, and the premise would have been completely unforgettable had Aronofsky been more original in his work.

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“Una” Mini-Review

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Una (2017) 

There are some films which touch very sensitive topics, and most of the time it may be advisable to avoid such films. But, there comes a film which deals with a hard-to-digest-topic so unassumingly, the viewers will hardly notice that what they are seeing is something quite shocking. “Una” is one of these films, telling the story of Una, now a grown-up woman who recalls her past sexual relationship with a much older man when she was just thirteen. Directed by Benedict Andrews and starring Rooney Mara and Ben Mendelsohn in the lead roles, this film, which is based on a theatrical play “Blackbird“, is an interesting account of a twisted relationship and “damaged” personalities. Beyond its uncomfortable subject matter, the film also offers a well-thought-out, even if “minimalist” plot, interesting cinematography and mesmerising performances.  

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“The Discovery” Review

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The Discovery (2017)

The Discovery” is a film which had its first premiere at the Sundance Film Festival 2017, but, arguably, it deserves more attention than it eventually got. Here, Will (Jason Segel) and Isla (Rooney Mara) meet in the strangest of times. It has been scientifically proven that the afterlife does exist, and this fact alone spiralled millions of suicides around the world, with people almost desperate to “get to the other side”. The scientist Thomas Harbor (Robert Redford) is behind the new discovery, and he has another trick up his sleeve: he thinks he can also show what the afterlife looks like before people take their lives. After all, who would not want to look at a holiday brochure before committing to their holiday destination? Although the film’s narrative slops and the chemistry between Segel and Mara is lukewarm, the film is atmospheric, raises some fascinating issues, and has a strong ending.

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“The Odyssey” Review

the odyssey posterThe Odyssey (2016)

No, no, no, you did not understand, no…I am not making animal documentaries. I am going to tell the story of men who are going to explore a new world” (Jacques Cousteau in “The Odyssey”).

I grew up watching Jacques-Yves Cousteau’s TV documentaries, amazed at all the underwater world, unusual sea animals and Cousteau’s adventures. Now, there is a French-language biopic starring Lambert Wilson as Jacques-Yves Cousteau, Pierre Niney as his son Philippe and Audrey Tautou as Cousteau’s wife Simone. The film explores Cousteau’s life from the late 1940s until about the 1970s, showing his journey from an underwater enthusiast to a TV celebrity, not forgetting his private life. A passionate explorer, Jacques Cousteau was indeed a pioneer in marine research and exploration, practically inventing underwater breathing equipment, and very slowly in his career moving from unethical handling of the marine world to promoting the protection of environment. Ironically, the biopic provides little insight into the personality of Jacques Cousteau, and in terms of drama, the film is stale. However, thanks to the beautiful score composed by Alexandre Desplat (The Painted Veil” (2006)) and Matias Boucard’s rich cinematography, there are other things here to contemplate, for those interested.

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