The Cabin in the Woods (2012) dir. Drew Goddard
Five friends go for a break at a remote cabin in the woods, where they get more than they bargained for. Together, they must discover the truth behind the cabin in the woods.
Verdict: ‘This is awesome’ to quote the film’s jock, Curt (Chris Hemsworth). Cabin initially appears to be your standard stereotypical genre parading the usual scenarios and characters in front of your face, but the film has it own rules and creative twists and turns. It doesn’t take itself too seriously venturing into pastiche and tongue-in-cheek horror. There are plenty of references for horror-philes and those who worship the Whedonverse. These include Hellraiser, Evil Dead, The Hills Have Eyes, Buffy the Vampire Slayer (two people from the Buffy/Angelverse are part of the cast) and many more.
The ending, it has to be said, is pretty bad. However, I could look past this because the legendary Sigourney Weaver made an appearance. Other than this, special mention has to go to Richard Jenkins. He is absolutely fantastic in this film and never fails to please in anything I have seen him in.
I love that this film doesn’t take itself too seriously - It reminded me a little of Slither (another comedy-horror that I loved). There are some pretty gruesome moments but there are plenty of laughs too. Seriously, you need to see this!!
We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011) dir. Lynne Ramsay
Kevin’s mother struggles to love her strange child, despite the increasingly vicious things he says and does as he grows up. But Kevin is just getting started, and his final act will be beyond anything anyone imagined.
Verdict: Lynne Ramsay’s adaptation of Lionel Shriver’s novel of the same name is extremely haunting. This is every parents worst nightmare - to raise a son who turns out to be psychologically damaged to the point where murder is an enjoyable act. The film is bleak and grim; the incident unfolding slowly, but carefully, in a serious of flashbacks. The film makes striking use of the colour red, seeping into the screen and sometimes suffusing it completely.
The violent acts themselves are committed off screen because we do not need to see them to understand the impact. The lack of dialogue also adds to the horror of the film as does Tilda Swinton’s performance - she is completely stripped of all emotion. She is left desperate, tragic and lonely.
I thought that this was a brilliant adaptation with striking visual images. The style of the film alone is responsible for the buzz at Cannes. It is quite Godardian and Kieslowski-esque!
Adventureland (2009) dir. Grey Mottola
James Brennan (Jesse Eisenberg) has to cancel his summer vacation to New York and find a job to pay for grad school. The only place he can get a job is Adventureland, a tacky amusement park where the games are fixed and the rides make you ill. It’s here that he meets Emily (Kristen Stewart) and the pair begin a complicated summer romance, but James still has a lot to learn about life and love.
Verdict: This is a really witty comedy from the director of Superbad. I wasn’t the biggest fan of Superbad (even though I adore Michael Cera) so i was quite sceptical when it came to this film. My friend told me i would be surprised by how much i would like it and she was totally right!
Jesse Eisenberg is really good in this film. I have seen his others films Zombieland, and Social Network but I think he really excels himself in Adventureland as an adorable, hopeless teen just trying to find where he fits in. The real talent has to be the awesome Bill Hader. He runs the amusement park with his wife (played by the equally awesome Kristen Wiig).
My favourite scene has to be near the end when Jesse’s character, James, is riding the bus to New York. His expressions looking through the window are exactly how I felt when I arrived in New York City. The soundtrack to the film is pretty awesome too: Judas Priest, Whitesnake, Crowded House, The Velvet Underground, The Cure, INXS, and David Bowie. It’s a great mix that brings Adventureland to life and add great commentary to many scenes.
Black Narcissus (1947) dir. Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger
After opening a convent in the Himalayas, five nuns encounter conflict and tension - both with the natives and also within their own group - as they attempt to adapt to their remote, exotic surroundings.
Verdict: Black Narcissus is another of Powell and Pressburger’s finest releases. They are experts at using colour to create mood and texture and the stunning blu ray transfer depicts this perfectly. The beautiful landscape of the Himalayas is stunningly realised in Technicolor and exudes a sense of hyper-realism which is strikingly contrast against the dark textures of the convent. The crosshatch patterns and archways created within the mise-en-scene work alongside the isolated landscape to create the feeling of claustrophobia and eventually leads to the psychological breakdown of Sister Ruth (Kathleen Bryon). Furthermore, as the state of Sister Ruth worsens, the screen becomes suffused in red acting as a psychologically commentary upon the character’s state of mind.
Characterisation is equally as important here. Deborah Kerr’s Sister Clodugh is the poster child of restraint. Having revealed her past, she survives through an eerie coldness that she must uphold in order to perform her duties. Kerr’s performance is exceptional; her face a blank canvas. In fact, the only motion any of the characters appear to create is hidden underneath their clothing (another restraining aspect) which flaps uncontrollably in the wind.
I thought this film was exceptionally well made, but I much prefer Powell and Pressburger’s other masterpiece The Red Shoes. Each film exhibits similar stylistic elements and are a testament to how good these pair were at filmmaking. They both have a very good understanding of the language of film and how to exploit colour to its full advantage. They are an absolute tour de force of cinema that should be appreciated for many years to come.—
The Ides of March (2011) dir. George Clooney
Stephen Meyer (Ryan Gosling) is an idealist who is currently the second in command of Governor Mike Morris’ (George Clooney) presidential campaign. Stephen is a true believer, but whilst on Morris’ campaign, pressure from the opposition and a romantic interest, give Stephen an introduction into the world of dirty politics. Does he play nice and choose victory over virtue?
Verdict: This film is extremely the smart. The script is very well written and executed brilliantly. The film fits nicely into the political thrillers that emerged in the 1970s. The film also boasts an outstanding collection of actors which adds to the powerful nature of the movie. Ryan Gosling shows once again that he is a very flexible actor, but it is the strong supporting cast that really draws you in. Philip Seymour Hoffman and Paul Giamatti suit their roles perfectly and never fail to disappoint.
Credit must go to George Clooney for the whole film. His performance is quite strong but the direction is stronger, offering a very sophisticated and classic style of filmmaking. Clooney has built up an excellent body of work over the years and the material he chooses is often though-provoking and stylish. There is also some excellent cinematography and the film makes great use of the colours from the American flag.—
Christopher Plummer appreciation - The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011). An actor with the most captivating screen presence. He could appear on screen for 1 minute and his appearance would be the most memorable thing from an entire film.