Darren Aronofsky’s Mother! introduces us to one of those golden couples lauded in social media, entertainment news and slavish profiles in Vanity Fair, Vogue or countless colour supplements. Javier Bardem is a celebrated poet trying to crack writer’s block as his new and younger wife, Jennifer Lawrence, works to renovate and redecorate their country house. Into this domestic Eden, disorder arrives in the form of a dying fan, Ed Harris, and his vivacious partner played with a delicious frisson by Michelle Pfeiffer. What happens between this quartet rapidly accelerates into a mash-up of Rosemary’s Baby, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, The Discreet Charm of The Bourgeoisie and liberal dashes of Pinter, Beckett and Ionesco for any absurdist theatre fans in the audience.
Originality doesn’t blast through the cinematic vaults often from an industry oversaturated with remakes, reboots and the like, but director Dan Bush has broken free from the mould with his horror/heist hybrid, a combination of these two worlds stands up well on paper but slightly misses the boat, in reality, dipping in and out of scenarios that are all too familiar.
After the success of his scripts for Sicario (2015) and Hell and High Water (2016), Taylor Sheridan’s Wind River promises to be an innovative mix of genre and social commentary. Despite a timely premise and two charismatic actors playing mismatched heroes in a remote and divided community, Wind River is a frustrating misfire of loose plot threads, confusing editing and a palpable sense unhelpful changes were made to the film’s final cut (The film was produced by The Weinstein Company. Say no more).
Fresh from wowing the crowds at this year’s Edinburgh Film Festival and going on to win the award for best British Film in the process, Francis Lee’s God’s Own Country finally sees its nationwide release this week. This deeply touching and thoroughly charming first feature has garnered the greatest amount of good will from critics and film fans alike, making it one of the most awaited British films of the year. Set amongst a Yorkshire Dales farming community, and recounting a love story between a Romanian worker and the owner of a sheep farm, the film is predictably being referred to by some as the British Brokeback Mountain, but in reality God’s Own Country has a lot more in common with Barry Jenkins’ surprise 2016 hit, Moonlight than with Ang Lee’s deeply flawed 2005 movie.
Coming literally out of nowhere to win hearts and souls this summer, Geremy Jasper’s brilliant first feature Patti Cake$ is everything you would want it to be and more. This coming of age story which sees an unlikely white female rapper from New Jersey find her voice, has a punk rock spirit with a power ballad soul and everything else in between. Patti Cake$ is 8 Miles if 8 Mile didn’t take itself too seriously, and if Eminem were a vivacious bigger than life jersey girl with red hair who could spit more rhymes than Drake and had more balls than Kanye. Staring Australian new comer Danielle Macdonald as the fearless Patti, the film mixes social and poetic realism to tell a story of struggle and triumph whilst seldom falling into the predictable or the facile.
The repercussions of telling a story of child grooming and abuse and its subsequent fall out in the years after will always be a sensitive and agonising road to venture down. First-time feature film director, Benedict Andrews, has bitten off more than he can handle in his adaptation of playwright David Harrower’s stage drama Blackbird, failing to build the intensity it cries out for.
Andrews gives a valiant effort in trying to build a world outside the four walls the play confines its characters too, but this only enhances Rooney Mara’s character Una’s mental instability, turning the victim of such a heinous crime into an unstable woman reminiscent of Glenn Close’s bunny boiler act in Fatal Attraction.
The dark opening sequence hangs heavily over the rural idyll shown in 3rd Night. Somewhere between B-movie and video nasty, a little girl is running around the woods, with the industry standard grisly event; but the soundtrack is brilliantly disturbing and unearthly, and the pace is well-judged. The nursery rhyme the child is singing drives everything else that unfolds in this movie.
Making its European premiere at this year’s Horror Channel Frightfest, Radius is a new horror scifi feature directed by Caroline Labrèche and Steeve Léonard. Although offering an intriguing premise and a genuinely promising storyline, the film sadly fails to live up fully to expectations, but don’t let that put you off too much, because there is plenty more to like in this ambitious production which is likely to please genre and indie fans alike.
It wasn’t so long ago that Steven Soderbergh was talking of retirement and the need to move on to something new. Luckily for us, the director is back with a film which is set to be one of his most well received to date. Yes Logan Lucky is yet another heist movie, and yes the jokes are a little on the predictable side, but make no mistake, this brilliantly well crafted and impeccably acted production was worth waiting four years for.
Staring Channing Tatum, Adam Driver and an unrecognisable Daniel Craig, the film is everything any Soderbergh fan could have wished for and more. In fact, with its quirky characters of bumbling country folk and reckless misfits, Logan Lucky would certainly feel more at home alongside any Coen Brothers production than the average Soderbergh narrative.