Gods Own Country [15]

Spring. Yorkshire. Young farmer johnny Saxby numbs his daily frustrations with binge drinking and casual sex, until the arrival of a Romanian worker for lambing season ignites an intense relationship that sets Johnny on a new path.  Locations in and round Keighley.  Sunday 19th October 2017, screening begins at 6:00pm prompt.

Francis Lee’s tender, impressive debut. Wendy Ide, The Guardian

Diary Of A Wimpy Kid :The Long Haul

Watching Wimpy Kid movies is probably an opportunity for adults to have a snooze whilst younger kids are watching the films, but I actually enjoyed this enough to pay attention throughout. 

This road trip movie plays like the Lampoons road disasters and it’s the usual Collection of individual scenes which are able to be cobbled together to make a feature length running time. Rodrick the annoying older brother is still one of the most entertainment factors. Alicia Silverstone as the mum who wants to go back to a time before smart phones pulls the family through this trip to grandmas which has many many things go wrong. 

Very basic entertainment but easy to watch.  

Hidden Figures 

During NASA’s space race with Russia, this tale of the African American women who used their brilliant minds to do the hard undiscovered maths to plot the trajectories for space travel is little known, until now. Katherine G. Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monae) play the lead trio of brilliant minds in a time of segregation. The ‘coloured only’ bathrooms and even coffee pots only for people who aren’t white show a sickening approach to society even amongst the Intelligent.  

Al Harrison (Kevin Costner) is the boss who makes a stand against the stupidity of segregation and Kirsten Dunst plays Vivian Mitchell who is an intelligent white lady amongst men who gets treated differently. 

The film has a light breezy tone and score which makes it an easy watch. Getting a man into space is no easy task and the intermingling or real footage and filmed works well. All the cast are excellent and I’m so glad this story is finally out there. 

Blair Witch (2016)

Director: Adam Wingard

Running Time: 88 mins. 

Cast: James Allen McCune, Callie Hernadez, some woods, a torch, a bull horn. 

Those of us who connected with The Blair Witch Project in 1999 did so on a psychological level resulting in the heebie-jeebies of a high level, especially in the witches cottage at the climax. 


Blair Witch 2: Book Of Shadows 2000 was frankly abysmal. 


Luckily Blair Witch 2016 follows Heather’s brother as he follows his sisters trail into Burkittsville’s woods. The way is shown by an online freak who claims to have been the one to discover the original tapes. So far so good. 

It’s all good on paper but from here on in I was let down. 

Apparently the director used a bull horn to get the correct jumpy responses from the cast. This is a good illustration of the failure of the jump scares. A loud noise after silence makes you jump but it isn’t ‘scary’. So you’ll get no points from me for that.

Especially when the noise is just loud running water, fire, supposed digital video glitching or any other mundane goings on. 


To say this group of people are in a wood, they seem to be able to disappear quickly and reappear an inch from camera without a single twig snap. 


The climax offers a well designed creepy cottage return though and the witch herself is fleetingly menacing and yet ultimately not. 


There’s not enough here for me to return to this film but I enjoyed the ride all the same out of a live fit the original. It’s no Book Of Shadows but it’s not as good as The Conjouring 2. 

C Whitehouse 2016

 

Kubo and the two strings (2016) 

Director: Travis Knight

Running time: 1 hour 45 mins

Cast: Art Parkinson, Matthew McConaughey, Ralph Fiennes, Rooney Mara, Charlize Theron. 


Laika studios have done it again. After the wobble (in my opinion) that was The Boxtrolls, the magic is captured again as this far eastern flavoured tale of a split apart family, delights both the eye and heart. 

The boy Kubo learns he must acquire a magical armour if he is to survive his aunts and grandfather as they seek his other eye, the first which they took when he was a baby. That brings me to the darkness at its heart and it’s been the same since Coraline where eyes were swapped for buttons. 

It’s as though these films are made for adults who are kids at heart firstly and then made acceptable for young ones to view if they can handle it. 

The use of origami is masterful and no doubt painstakingly recreated. The Laika humour is peppered throughout and is brilliantly delivered by Matthew McConaughey, Ralph Fiennes and Charlize Theron and not forgetting Art Parkinson as Kubo. 

The evil aunt sisters are voiced by Rooney Mara and are like something from Clive Barkers horror novels. 

In short I loved it. But I still love Paranorman and Coraline more. 

The themes of death and revenge are not played for a kiddie crowd but delivered in black and white touching any audience member who has dealt with a dying family member and bringing tears of understanding. 

Just a beautifully constructed piece of storytelling and yet one that the whole family will take something from. 


C Whitehouse 2016

The Neon Demon (2016)

Director: Nicolas Winding Refn 

Running time: 2 hours

Cast: Elle Fanning, Jena Malone, Keanu Reeves, Christina Henricks, Karl Glusman. 

I had every fibre of my being wanting to like Nicolas Winding Refn’s movie Only God Forgives with Ryan Gosling starring. But ultimately I knew it was not something I fully enjoyed at all, in fact much of it, I simply endured. I feared that this vapid arty look at modelling and the value of beauty would be worse. 

There are many haters for this movie and I fully accept that many will find this slow motion, slow dialogue, long shot and out of body experience of a film to be like a bad migraine. But I have to admit I was captivated. Elle Fanning has mesmerised me since Super 8. She is perfectly cast newbie Jesse entering the modelling world in Los Angeles. The film delivers like the best work of David Lynch with its horrors and emotional strains being set to an unsettling musical score. The film is shot partly in a palette of rich colours to highlight the models fake plastic world which they inhabit. Winding Refn claims to be colour blind and only see contrast but I have no idea if that’s true. It would explain why he makes such artistic looking films. Maybe we should watch them with the colour set to black and a white to get the full benefit. 

But between the shiny clever- clever directed phases, there’s a straight forward style of film to be found where the characters try and lead a life out of the glare of a camera. Another touch stone would be the excellent Black Swan which was also partially demented and just as weirdly rewarding. 

I think if you are prepared for the almost supernatural eeriness of the Neon Demon then you may find something to enjoy. Put it this way, if you don’t like the first ten minutes then it’s not for you. Jena Malone co stars along with Keanu Reeves who both lend an interesting weight to proceedings and have both a history in the off centre kind of movies where reality is skewed. I’m thinking or Sucker Punch for Malone and A Scanner Darkly for Reeves, both of which I adore.

If you’ve managed to watch the classic Eraserhead all the way through then I have high hopes you’ll find some gold here. 



C Whitehouse 2016 

The Purge: Election Year (2016) 

Director: James DeMonaco

Running time: 1 hr 46mins 

Cast: Frank Griilo, Elizabeth Mitchell, Myketti Williamson, Joseph Soria, Terry Serpico. 

Frank Grillo stars yet again as Leo who is now head of security for a senator played by Lost’s Elizabeth Mitchell. It just so happens that this is the first year that nobody is exempt from the purge so security is heightened. For those who didn’t know, the purge is an annual day where killing is legalised for twelve hours so that society can let off steam. It sounded ludicrous for the first film but I’ve grown accepting of it. Naturally things go bad and Frank and the senator end up on the streets. Come on, that’s not a spoiler, it would be rubbish if that didn’t happen. Also making an appearance is Bubba from Forest Gump, Myketti Williamson who runs a store and gets dragged into the conflicts. This time we have a baddie who is fashioned on some sort of nazi thug and to be honest she doesn’t get enough screen time. Outside of the protecting the senator thread we get further glimpses of the gangs on the streets and there tactics on the streets. The whole political angle wasn’t exactly where I wanted things to go for film three but I’ll take it. It’s true that this is the weakest one to date but I still feel it keeps its head above water. There’s blood and fighting and a cult of sorts so what more do you need for a good purge? 


C Whitehouse 2016

Sausage Party (2016) a film review. 

Director: Greg Tiernan

Running time: 90 mins. 

Cast : So many, please take a look at the top of the poster. 

The plot for Sausage Party is irrelevant, but since you ask, the food stuffs of a supermarket long to be bought by the gods (humans) and look forward to the paradise that awaits. Seth Rogan’s sausage, Frank learns that the gods actual mean to kill and eat them and wants to save his food friends from this fate. 

That is unimportant. All you need to know is that sexualised foods swear almost every sentence and explicitly talk about it. The cast is top notch but they are just making a comedy which is odd rather than humorous. There’s drug taking and more swearing than I’ve ever witnessed in a movie until now. It all seems rather throw away until the last fifteen minutes which features something I’ve honestly never seen on screen before. I chuckled along but couldn’t really see a point to it all besides trying to shock. I don’t really know what else to say. It’s a bit of a head scratcher.  

C Whitehouse 2016

A throw away movie for teenagers or stoners. 

Flimsy fun but mildly entertaining. 

Pete’s Dragon (2016) a film review. 


Director: David Lowery

Running time: 1 hour 42mins. 

Cast : Bryce Dallas Howard, Robert Redford, Oakes Fegley, Oona Laurence, Wes Bentley, Karl Urban. 


Young Pete is orphaned as a 5 year old while on a woodland trip and he is brought up Tarzan style by a dragon. Disney’s live action version update is well cast and I was a little shocked to see Robert Redford acting in this, when it’s already got Bryce Dallas Howard as a woodland ranger called Grace. Grace discovers Pete as he’s been living in the woodland for many years. A child couldn’t have survived so long alone so who helped him? 

We know it’s a dragon but the adult in me was often questioning the logic how he would have survived even with a dragon, even one who could fly, breathe fire and turn invisible. 

The dragon is more of a hairy green puppy but that said it’s pretty seamless as it blends into the live action. I was impressed with how I couldn’t notice a jarring join. Oakes Fegley is Pete and he himself handles the role just fine it’s just that he’s written to not know what a balloon is after not having seen one for six years, or Windows for that matter. 

There were a bunch of moments like that where my logic struggled with the plausibility. But then I only had to look at my sons face as we rooted for Karl Urban not to locate ‘Elliot’ the large furry pal. 

The way that Pete seems to imprint on Elliot is never fully explained and yet there’s an undeniable bond. Which made it all the more surprising when Pete too easily adopts a human family life for a spell mid movie and seems to have moved on from his winged friend. 

Naturally the movie has a varnish of schmaltz and family lessons of unity to teach. But it kept me guessing as to the outcome. Would Pete choose returning to humanity or believe Elliot to be his family now? 

Would he ever get a haircut? What did Elliot eat? 


There are pulls at the heartstrings and moments of elation which make for a gentle journey for all the family to enjoy. A magical tale for those of us who still know what it is to want to own our own Falkor from THE NEVERENDING STORY. 

Speaking of similar films, the feral boy motif flys too close to Tarzan and The Jungle Book plus How To Train Your Dragon is still up and running. So it’s not exactly fresh ground. But I preferred this to The BFG. 


Family values in a family film, Disney playing to their strengths. 



C Whitehouse 2016.