It's 1630 and William, his wife Katherine and their children have been forced to move from their settlement to a farm in New England situated on the edge of a mysterious, but terrifying forest. They are God-fearing Puritans, who just wish to lead a simple life and spend their hours harvesting crops. However, it isn't long before their crops begin to weaken and the farm animals develop disturbing and unnatural behaviours. Things take a horrific turn when the couple's young baby disappears without a trace while daughter Thomasin was playing with him. She's accused of dabbling in witchcraft by her own family, though she takes it upon herself to uncover the dark magic that surrounds them and retrieve her sibling. Meanwhile, her brother is suffering under demonic possession. Can this family unite to fight against this plague of evil? Or will it ultimately draw them apart?
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Kate Dickie and Kenny Christie - The World Premiere of IONA features as the Closing Gala at the Edinburgh International Film Festival at Festival Theatre - Edinburgh, United Kingdom - Saturday 27th June 2015
Gorgeous photography and an elusive storytelling style combine to make this dark dramatic thriller both gripping and rather frustrating. Without some understanding of the nature of honour killing in Britain, it will be difficult to make much sense out of the plot. But the atmospheric filmmaking helps make up for this, and it also covers over an uneven central performance.
The story opens in an isolated trailer park on the edge of a Yorkshire town, where young Laila (Sameena Jabeen Ahmed) is in hiding with her Scottish boyfriend Aaron (Connor McCarron). But as she quietly heads to work, there are several men on her trail. Laila's brother Zaheer (Ali Ahmad) is just back from Pakistan and is tracking her down with three friends, while her father (Wasim Zakir) has hired Tony (Gary Lewis) and his friend Barry (Barry Nunney) to find her. Clearly, her family wants her back, and Laila knows they're not planning to welcome her with open arms. So she and Aaron make a run for it.
Shot and edited in an observational style, directors Daniel and Matthew Wolfe don't make it very easy for the audience, never quite explaining what's happening and letting the actors speak in mumbled thick dialect. This makes it tricky to engage with any of the characters, especially the inexpressive Ahmed, who is better in the quiet scenes than she is when required to display emotion. She does capture a strong sense of desperation, as Laila is literally fighting for her life. It's clear that each character has his or her own story within the bigger narrative, but working these out sometimes feels like a chore, even with terrific actors on board like Lewis, Nichola Burley (as Laila's boss) and Kate Dickie (as Aaron's mum).
Continue reading: Catch Me Daddy Review
This may look like a rom-com, with its obvious plotting and over-cute characters, but it's eerily lacking any actual romance or comedy. And there isn't much else to grab onto either, even though the likeable cast do what they can with a superficial script. Sadly, the director never manages to pull it all together.
Set in Glasgow, the story centres on Jane (Gillan), an aspiring author who is tired of rejection letters from publishers about her first novel, a down-beat story about father-daughter gloom. Then she gets an offer from a tiny local publishing house run by sexy Frenchman Tom (Weber) and his goofy assistant Roddy (De Caestecker). And the book is a surprise hit, winning awards and propelling her into rising-star glamour, complete with a flashy new screenwriter boyfriend (Cusick). But as she writes her second book, she gets writer's block due the thought of finishing her contract with Tom. She couldn't possibly be in love with him, could she? Meanwhile, in need of the manuscript, Tom and Roddy try to spark her writing by making her life as miserable as possible.
The film has a choppy structure that makes it impossible for anyone to have a meaningful moment. Every plot point is conveyed with another musical montage featuring colourful Glasgow landmarks and local indie music, all of which is nice to look at even though it leaves us unable to care. And while screenwriter Solomons at least tries to reinvent the standard rom-com structure, he still can't disguise the obvious fact that Jane and Tom are meant for each other from the start. And we also never doubt Jane's awkward attempts to reconcile with her dad (Lewis).
Continue reading: Not Another Happy Ending Review
As another full-on Irvine Welsh adaptation Trainspotting did in 1996, this bracingly original movie puts a new filmmaker on the map. Not only is this a loud blast of both style and substance, but it refuses to water down its subject matter, taking us through a shockingly profane story in a way that's both visually inventive and emotionally resonant.
This is the story of Bruce (McAvoy), an Edinburgh detective who's determined to beat his colleagues to a promotion. He's also a relentless womaniser, sexist, racist and drug addict. And he'll do anything to get ahead, hiding the sordid details of his private life from his boss (Sessions) while undermining the other cops at any chance while pretending to be their friends. In quick succession, he gets young Ray (Bell) addicted to cocaine, flirts continually with Amanda (Poots), has a fling with the kinky wife (Dickie) of fellow officer Gus (Lewis), torments Peter (Elliott) about his sexuality, and takes Bladesey (Marsan) on a sex-tourism holiday while making obscene calls to his needy wife (Henderson). All of this happens while Bruce leads the investigation into a grisly murder.
McAvoy dives so far into this role that we barely recognise him in there. Bruce is so amoral that we are taken aback by each degrading moment. And yet McAvoy somehow manages to hold our sympathy due to the film's blackly hilarious tone and a startling undercurrent of real emotion. Even though he's a monster, we see his boyish fragility, especially in surreal sequences involving his therapist (Broadbent), which merge with his fantasies, hallucinations and nightmares.
Continue reading: Filth Review
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Bruce Robertson is a vile, devious and emotionally disturbed individual who also happens to be a Detective Sergeant. Off duty, he lives a life of debauchery; snorting line after line of cocaine and indulging in sordid sexual encounters with numerous women while trying to control his unpredictable bipolar personality. On duty, he does everything within his power to trick, deceive and ruin the lives of his colleagues with whom he competes to achieve a promotion to detective inspector. He does nothing to hide his radical views on race and women as he attempts to solve a grisly murder that seems to have more to it than he initially thought. With the web of lies he weaves throughout his life, will he be able to sort out truths from the untruths in order to maintain his sanity as his deteriorating mental health threatens to cripple him? And will he ever be reunited with the wife he is so desperate to resolve things with?
Adapted from the novel by Irvine Welsh, 'Filth' has been directed and written by Jon S. Baird ('Cass') and sees an intense star-studded cast convert to screen an compelling story of insanity, romance and deceit. This shocking 18-rated crime drama is set to hit UK cinemas in September 2013.
With a remarkably vivid sense of life in rural Scotland, this tightly contained drama is an impressive debut for writer-director Graham. There isn't much dialog, and yet the filmmaker is able to evoke a strong sense of internal urgency within the characters. And in the demanding title role, newcomer Pirrie is magnetic.
Shell (Pirrie) is a 17-year-old girl who lives with her father Pete (Mawle) at their roadside petrol garage in the middle of nowhere along a highway through the Highlands. Devoted to caring for her dad, who has epilepsy, Shell knows all the customers, including a slightly too-friendly businessman (Smiley) who travels through here regularly. And Pete and Shell are willing to help stranded travellers, such as a couple (Dickie and Hickey) that needs help when they run into a deer on the road. Meanwhile, nice local guy Adam (De Caestecker) wants to take Shell away from here, but the thought of that triggers slightly too-affectionate feelings about her dad.
The film is a marvel of tiny details, as Shell and Pete communicate without the need for many words. And Graham's cameras capture every sideways glance, hint of a smile, light touch and uncomfortable scowl to let us see how isolated this father and daughter are from the rest of civilisation. This style of interaction creates tension that sometimes feels rather dangerous. For example, after Pete takes a trip into town, Shell sniffs him like a jealous wife. Yes, these are raw performances that are often unnerving. And since we see everything through Pirrie's expressive, haunted, hopeful eyes, we can't help but be drawn into her world.
Continue reading: Shell Review
When archaeologists Shaw and Holloway (Rapace and Marshall-Green) figure out that ancient civilisations share a map to a specific star system, the Weyland CEO (Pearce) funds a two-year mission to get answers about the origin of humanity. Led by Weyland crony Vickers (Theron) and Captain Janek (Elba), Shaw and Holloway are accompanied by a helpful android (Fassbender) and a team of not-so-enthusiastic scientists. But what they find on this distant moon isn't what they expected, and the remnants of this civilisation aren't as dead as they seem.
Continue reading: Prometheus Review
Mary (Dickie) has fled Ireland with her 15-year-old son Fergal (Bruton) and settled in a squalid Edinburgh housing estate, where she immediately starts scrawling protection spells on the walls in her own blood. And there's good reason, as the shady Cathal (Nesbitt) is hot on her trail, travelling with his brother Liam (McMenamin) under orders to "kill the boy". Despite this, Fergal tries to be a normal teen and spark a romance with his new neighbour Petronella (Stanbridge). But there's a beast on the loose and, quite literally, hell to pay.
Continue reading: Outcast Review
For all the watching going on in Red Road, there is precious little safety -- in fact one of the tropes that writer/director Arnold (in an extremely impressive feature debut) insistently returns to is the resolute unsafety of these people's worlds, no matter how much technology surrounds them. Arnold's protagonist is Jackie (the fantastically affecting Kate Dickie) a bracingly cold and shut-off woman who works at the City Eye, controlling a bank of cameras with a joystick, occasionally zooming on something menacing or just plain out of the ordinary, watching. Her contact with the human race is limited practically to these TV screens, having shut herself off from her parents and seemingly keeping no friends; the only relationship with any regularity we see is a functional and depressing affair carried on with a married man occasionally in his van. Arnold sinks viewers deep into Jackie's self-induced loneliness, letting out only the faintest hints about what tragedy has pushed her into this suffocating state (Was there a husband? A daughter?), before Jackie sees a man's face on the camera one day which she remembers from her past.
Continue reading: Red Road Review
Set in the beautiful Swiss Alps, Youth sees Michael Caine & Harvey Keitel in a fine piece of work.
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