Tag Archives: Review

Us

Us (2019)

A family’s serenity turns to chaos when a group of doppelgängers begins to terrorize them.

Starring: Lupita Nyong’o • Winston Duke • Elisabeth Moss 

*Spoiler free, I promise*

I’ve seen Us twice in the cinema so far and it is hands down the most interesting film I’ve seen all year.  I understand that it might not be everybody’s cup of tea but it really is mine.

Reviewing it is not going to be easy because I could never do it justice but I’m going to try.

In 1986, young Adelaide Thomas is momentarily separated from her parents at a Santa Cruz fairground. Drawn to a hall of mirrors, Adelaide encounters a doppelgänger of herself and is scarred by the experience. Her parents try everything to get her to speak (she has been rendered mute), including dance and art therapy.

In present-day, Adelaide (Lupita Nyong’o) and her husband Gabe (Winston Duke) have two children, Zora (Shahadi Wright Joseph) and Jason (Evan Alex). We meet them as they head back to her families beach house in Santa Cruz on vacay.

While Ade is apprehensive given her connection to the beach, she allows Gabe to take the family anyway, where they meet up with their friends, Kitty (Elisabeth Moss) and Josh Tyler (Tim Heidecker) – and their teenage twin daughters. Gabe is eager to impress the couple, who are rich AF but clearly despise one another.

All is well until Jason disappears for a moment – and Ade panics. While temporarily missing, Jason sees a man in a red jumpsuit with blood dripping off his hands. He chooses not to tell the others, given Ade’s current mood.

ABBA had started to do PAs in people’s homes

Later, back at the holiday home, the family are stalked by a family in their drive way. It is here that things become frigging sinister and I don’t want to give the game away. I can say that the ‘visitors’ are the Untethered (as well as doppelgängers of the entire family) and they do not come in peace.

What follows is a story of fairy tale proportions, of parallel worlds and of mystery. Adelaide and family must fight to protect each other at all costs – and in the process Ade must face up to the trauma of her childhood, which is finally starting to make sense.

Cutting crew

This film is stunning with incredible double performances by a solid cast. Lupita in particular is mesmerising as Adelaide and her doppelgänger Red. Support in the form of Moss is also satisfying – while Duke brings a welcome comic relief. The kids are outstanding – the bickering siblings really come into their own when they’re required to fight their own doubles – and I love their scenes.

The imagery, the music, the story – in the hands of the mighty Jordan Peele it just works brilliantly. On second viewing I noticed far more foreshadowing and clues to what is going on, and I genuinely love this movie. It’s frightening and beautiful in equal measure with an insane final sequence between Adelaide and Red. The dance/fight choreography is pure perfection.

Art Attack’s new presenter was proving really popular

I cannot wait to see what Peele does next. And with new Twilight Zone episodes and a writing credit for the 2020 Candyman remake, I don’t think we’ll have to wait too long.

⭐⭐⭐⭐  out of ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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The Aftermath

The Aftermath (2019)

Post World War II, a British colonel and his wife are assigned to live in Hamburg during the post-war reconstruction, but tensions arise with the German who previously owned the house.

Starring: Keira Knightley • Jason Clarke • Alexander Skarsgård

*Minor Spoilers*

I always know I’m going to have a good time when Keira Knightley is wafting about in period costume. It’s just something I enjoy, sue me. Is she the greatest actress of our generation? Hell no but she looks good doing it and I like her, so there.

In this she is Rachael, the wife of a colonel stationed in Hamburg after World War II. On arriving at her new home, a grand house commandeered from a German man and his daughter, Rachael is shocked to see what the war torn city actually looks like.

Cheer up, love

She’s uncomfortable in her new digs which isn’t helped by the fact her husband, Lewis (Jason Clarke) is largely AWOL, leaving her alone for long stretches. She’s further aggrieved when Lewis decides to let widower Stefan (super babe Alexander Skarsgård) and his teenage daughter Heike remain in the house instead of moving to the camps.

Heike is understandably fucked off to be banished to the attic of her own home and enjoys rebelling against polite behaviour. Lewis for the most part is a compassionate man who feel sympathy for the Germans while still having to bring the 88 (Nazi Party) to justice.

Stefan just misses his dead wife and wants life to go back to the way it was, while Rachael is fighting her own battle, the loss of her son who was killed in a London air strike. It soon becomes clear that Lewis has been throwing himself into work instead of comforting his wife (and facing his own grief), giving us more of an understanding of what’s bubbling beneath the surface of their marriage.

“I’ll have you know I give great head…”

When Lewis is required to go away for an extended period, Rachael begs him to stay for once in his life – to sort out their differences sure but also to nip her burgeoning attraction to Stefan in the bud…

In the meantime, Heike is getting into her own mischief, involving herself with the worst kind of bad boy, a Nazi sympathiser. You just know that can’t end well.

The Aftermath looks amazing obviously, while the chemistry between Keira and my boy Alexander is hot AF. As the two do a very poor job of fighting their attraction to one another, they also bond over their respective losses. Is this enough though for them both to start over?

Well, I expected there to be more of a twist if I’m honest. There’s quite a bit of hinting about Stefan’s own affiliation with the Führer and I wanted there to be more to the story than there was. However, the ending is sweet and hopeful, and although Jason Clarke seriously reminds me of a young, better-looking Piers Morgan, I was rooting for him.

Just one of the swishy dresses on display

This is a pretty looking lament on grief and seeing things through to the bitter end. It won’t be particularly memorable but isn’t the worst way to spend a couple of hours. Plus, KK wears at least three iconic frocks which will stick fondly in my memory. So there is that at least.

⭐⭐⭐½ out of ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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If Beale Street Could Talk

If Beale Street Could Talk (2018)

A woman in Harlem embraces her pregnancy while she and her family struggle to prove her fiancé innocent of a crime.

Starring: KiKi Layne • Stephan James • Regina King • Brian Tyree Henry • Dave Franco

TW: Sexual Assault

Honestly, if Beale Street could talk I don’t think it would because it would be too busy snoozing in the middle row of the theater, next to a teenage boy cracking his knuckles.

This movie is sooooooo boring. Aggressively boring in fact and I couldn’t wait for it to end. With a run time of almost 2 hours, I felt every single minute. Luckily my viewing partner was on the same page so I didn’t feel quite so bad when I didn’t like it at all (not that that normally matters).

Are the critics and people who loved this so much talking about the same film? I am so disappointed. Barry Jenkins is, of course, the director behind 2016’s masterpiece Moonlight so to say I went it with high hopes is an understatement. I even packed a wad of tissues expecting to sniffle my way through.

Well, I didn’t tear up once and that, my friends, is a bad sign. I can’t sit through an episode of Hollyoaks without bawling but as the end credits played, I was dry eyed with my heart of stone firmly intact.

Credit: Annapurna Pictures

*Minor spoilers*

I suppose I should go into the things I did like, which will be easy because it’s a short list featuring just two words: Regina King. Thank God for her because without I probably would have walked out. If I’m being extra generous, the story-line – of a black man falsely accused of sexual assault – is also interesting in its own right. Had this focused more on the crime element of the story, I think I would have been way more engaged. There’s a segment in which Sharon Rivers (Tish’s mum) travels to South America to speak to the victim which is very good.

I can’t say this isn’t an important movie, it’s the kind of movie I want to see and it has a lot to say about society – and similar neighbourhoods and black communities across the US. It makes you think about all the innocent men who go to their death just because they’re in the wrong place at the wrong time – and only because of the colour of their skin. It’s sickening and this is just one story in a pool of thousands.

I just wish it was better. Based on the James Baldwin novel of the same name, it focuses on the love between Tish (KiKi Layne) and Fonny (Stephan James), childhood sweethearts with their whole lives ahead of them. When Fonny is wrongly accused of a brutal sexual assault, Tish and their families are forced to do everything they can to prove his innocence. Which is made all the more vital when Tish discovers she’s pregnant with Fonny’s baby.

The film takes us back and forth on the timeline of their relationship, giving us a glimpse of two kids at play in the tub together – to the conception of their adult relationship (then their baby) – to present day – and right back again. That’s not hard to follow and I like how the film looks, I suppose. Some of the lighting is gorgeous and the soundtrack is nice too.

No shade to any of the performances either. In addition to the skill of Ms King, newcomer Layne does okay. Tish just isn’t that exciting and there are times she irritates me with her doe-eyed innocence. Tish’s fiery sister Ernestine (Teyonah Parris) is great too.

There’s also some interesting support in the shape of the mighty Brian Tyree Henry, Diego Luna and even Dave Franco.

Stephan James’ Fonny isn’t a character I particularly care for. There are times he takes his frustrations out on Tish and although I get what they represent, I didn’t like it. And there’s a lot of meaningful eye contact which I could do without. Talking of which – the extended ‘cherry popping’ scene was unnecessary and a little awkward.

Dance your way into a better movie, guys

So you could say this was not a hit with me at all. I don’t regret seeing it but I have no emotional attachment to the central characters at all. I’m not surprised it didn’t appear as a Best Picture nominee this year, although Regina King has been rightly recognised for Supporting Actress.

⭐⭐ out of ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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Forget About Love: Nymphomaniac Review

Charlotte-Gainsbourg-NymphomaniacOn Monday I went straight from work into a four hour sex film.

Not just any four hour sex film, you understand (I’m not that continental), but Lars von Trier’s Nymphomaniac (Vol. I & II).

I’m going to start my review by first saying a few things. Firstly, there is a lot of fucking involved so there is no skirting around that. Nymph is a story about sex addiction, the destruction of lives as a direct consequence of said addiction and the journey from self-hatred to acceptance, so if it hadn’t been full of scenes of rutting I would have been surprised.

Since the story is being handled by von Trier, who has scarred me for life in the past, I would expect nothing less. Secondly, I’m not going to waffle on about the story line. All I will say is that one evening a man finds a woman knocked out in an alleyway and, since she is reluctant to go to the hospital, takes her home. Once there, she tells him, in great graphic detail, the history of her erotic life.

Finally, my last comment before I give my thoughts: on checking out IMDB’s reviews for Nymph, I was hard pressed to find a positive summary. This intrigued me so I went digging and I can honestly say, I don’t get it. I get that not everybody is able to handle such eye-opening scenes of sex and violence. Fine. But nothing I found in many of those reviews rang true for me. My only conclusion is that there are people out there who have been swayed by the controversy and are unwilling to see beyond the ‘porn’.

However, I bloody loved it.nymphomaniac-stacy-martin-sophie-kennedy-clark-slice

Yes the main protagonist, Joe, does a lot of shagging. She starts young and keeps on trucking. Some of the practices she involves herself in make me wince, even though I can understand the compulsion. The cast is good looking for the most part which is handy as you see them naked quite a bit.

The acting has been one of the most criticised parts in the reviews I have read, but I don’t agree. Sure, Shia LeBeouf‘s accent is confusing (South African? Danish?) but he does a fair job as Jerome. Young Joe is incredible; a brave and bright eyed Lolita. Uma Thurman completely steals the first instalment with her passive aggressive-on-acid turn and Christian Slater is a total DILF (thank God for eye candy).

Nymphomaniac-Poster-Jamie-Bell-is-KNymph is really funny. Like, laugh out loud hilaire. There are moments of genuine comedy that I wasn’t prepared for. I think the concept of the not knowing what to expect made me go in with an uneasy feeling and what I saw was touching, funny, beautiful and grimy; a cornucopia of emotion.

All in all, I think it should be seen. I’ve spent the last few days talking about it and plenty of people have asked me how it was. Nobody cared this much about my opinion on Cuban Fury, funnily enough.

So, I will say this: if you want to watch something a bit different, have four hours (FOUR HOURS) to spare and aren’t opposed to looking at a lot of bodily fluid/penises/vaginas/gerbils, then why not? You could do worse.

I also think that the scenes I most enjoyed were the scenes with Jamie Bell. I fancy him, of course but I found them/him intriguing. Without Spoiler Alerting all over the shop, his influence over the Older Joe (the brilliant Charlotte Gainsbourg) is disturbing but somehow, the easiest to understand.

This could just be lust for the grown up Billy Elliott, or… I have a hidden sadomasochist lurking deep inside.

Happy shagging, Campers!