William Brent Bell directs Isabelle Fuhrman, Julia Stiles and Hiro Kanagawa in this prequel to the adopted child serial killer shocker.
A horror icon is confirmed. Better than the original for meeting Hitchock’s basic theory of suspense. Alf famously said that a scene where a group play cards and a bomb suddenly goes off is shock. A scene where we know there is a bomb set to explode in a room where a group is playing card is suspense. The first film is rigged for a fantastic surprise. But this prequel assumes you know the cat is out of the bag already and gleefully let’s you identify with the villain, sharing her drive to not be caught out or be just plain captured. There’s an invigorating switcheroo at the midway point too and Fuhrman is excellent. Maybe this could have done with just a couple more executions, but again O:FK is all about toying with your expectations. Something Brent Bell does a pretty nifty job of.
David Leitch directs Brad Pitt, Brian Tyree Henry and Aaron Taylor -Johnson in this action comedy where too many hired guns are on a high speed train from Tokyo to Kyoto.
Wants to be Kill Bill – certainly isn’t. Reaches for Snatch but doesn’t come close. Really this feels most like Brad Pitt’s Hudson Hawk. Only not as screwball, inventive, meta or straightforward as it thinks it is. The movie last exactly the same length as a one-way journey on the real bullet train. 127 minutes. Fatal.
Leigh Janiak directs Sadie Sink, Emily Rudd and Gillian Jacobs in this sequel / prequel to the first Fear Street horror flick – here we go to Seventies summer camp.
General consensus suggested that Fear Street Trilogy gets better the deeper you go but this is a mess. Too many characters. Far too long spent on lore that doesn’t have any direct relevance to what we are watching. Not enough focus on kills and stalks. And it should just be a decent budgeted Friday the 13th tribute, which should be the easiest thing in the world to pull off brainlessly. Still… Sadie Sink is always watchable. The soundtrack is neat.
Perfect Double Bill: Fear Street Part 3 1666 (2021)
James Ivory directs Anthony Hopkins, Emma Thompson and Helena Bonham Carter in this period drama where two Edwardian families intermingle in a series of romances, compromises and deceits.
So much plot. It certainly isn’t stately. Yet all the pieces (a mini-series worth) fall into place without ever feeling skimmed over. The class division stuff holds up to scrutiny. Thompson and Hopkins are excellent. Not really my jam but there’s little to fault here.
Claude Chabrol directs Robin Renucci, Philippe Noiret and Anne Brochet in this French mystery where a gameshow host and a ghostwriter play a game of cat-and-mouse over the disappearance of a young woman and the exploitation of a spaced out orphan.
As much French farce as Hitchcockian pastiche this has some nice moments but never really goes anywhere after the first act. The ensemble is really cracking though so you don’t object to being in their company as they spin their wheels until the credits.
Alejandro Amenábar directs Nicole Kidman, Fionnula Flanagan and Christopher Eccleston in this supernatural horror where an isolated country house is full of strange disturbances and secrets.
Doors that must remain locked, fog that cannot be escaped, piles of autumnal leaves that cover something wicked. As a shocker it only really has the primo shit once or twice but The Others is more about atmosphere than scares. This is horror cinema as decoupage, lots of layers of gimmicks, red herrings and half whispers that build up into a satisfying whole. It looks wonderful – Kidman, for example, has never looked more like a 1950s movie goddess in her skintight lady of the house attire, bone white make-up and bleached curls. In my opinion her two purest works of genre, this and Dead Calm, contain her best performances… forget all that Oscar bait crap. It might only truly work the first time out as a rattler but the level of detail and care put into the movie making means The Others is always a classy rewatch.
Pier Paolo Pasolini directs Enrique Irazoqui, Margherita Caruso and Settimio Di Porto in this biblical drama that focuses on Jesus’ life, miracles, humanist message and near socialist acts of dissent.
Simple, loaded with Pasolini’s Marxist politics but I’d struggle to think of a more reverential well made biopic about the “Son of God”. Made with neo-realist stylings (non-actors, unbombastic locations and dressing) this is another one ticked off from my of “Greatest Films” bucket list thanks to MUBI but also one I hope to revisit in the cinema some day.
Iain Softley directs Kate Hudson, Gena Rowlands and John Hurt in this Southern Gothic chiller where a palliative care worker believe her latest dying patient has a nasty secret in their attic.
Broody and moody, looks sweet and has a nice twist in the tale. The voodoo backdrop could be leaned into a bit more heavily and Hudson is competent but not the stamp of her co-stars. Passes an evening.
Michael Tuchner directs Richard Burton, Ian McShane and Nigel Davenport in this British gangster film where a vicious gang boss plans a heist.
Strange fish this. Burton’s performance certainly is memorable. Based on a Kray, he is both gay and a goblin… but his cockney accent is awful. The main heist has some surprises. In total though it never really coalesces. Good London location work.