Continuing on from the 2013 hit, this sequel blends fact and fiction to follow real-life ghostbusters Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) from the 1976 Amityville haunting to an encounter with the Enfield poltergeist in 1977 London. Filmmaker James Wan continues to deploy every cinematic gimmick he knows to freak out the audience, and the fact that it's based on a true story makes it even more unsettling. Although the cliches of the genre feel a bit tired.
The story opens in Amityville, where the Warrens are deeply disturbed by supernatural forces and decide to take some time off. But they're soon summoned to England to help a family being terrorised by a nasty spirit. Arriving in Enfield, North London, they meet Peggy Hodgson (Frances O'Connor), a plucky single mother of four, who is worried that the ghost of an angry old man is threatening her 11-year-old daughter Janet (Madison Wolfe). Now staying with neighbours (Simon Delaney and Maria Doyle Kennedy) across the street, Peggy has also called in two experts, a true believer (Simon McBurney) and a sceptic (Franka Potente), to work with the Warrens to clear this malevolent presence from the family home.
While the script inventively intermingles the facts of the case with a generous dose of movie fiction, Wan fills the screen with all kinds of creepy goings-on, including banging noises, levitating furniture and flickering TV screens. Additional standard scares include a nerve-jangling toy and a seriously scary nun (who's about to get her own spin-off film, like the creepy doll Annabelle from the first movie). Wan also uses manipulative movie trickery from moody music to grubby production design to prowling camerawork that constantly reveals something frightening in the deep shadows. What he never does is find a new way to scare the audience: we have seen all of these tricks before, but of course they still work.
Continue reading: The Conjuring 2 Review
A buoyant celebration of the power of music, this is the third blissfully entertaining musical romance from John Carney, who also wrote and directed Once and Begin Again. Set in the 1980s, this brightly comical film is packed with fabulous songs, both real hits from the period and fantastic pastiche numbers. And it's vividly performed by a fresh cast.
It's set in 1985 Dublin, where 15-year-old Conor (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo) is furious when his parents (Aidan Gillen and Maria Doyle Kennedy) transfer him to a local catholic school due to financial trouble. Conor's adored older stoner-rocker brother Brendan (Jack Reynor) is still living at home, while their younger sister Ann (Kelly Thornton) observes the craziness of her family with wry detachment. Then Conor falls for sexy bad girl Raphina (Lucy Boynton), trying to impress her by telling her that he's in a rock band. So now he really needs to create one. He gathers some other outcasts at his new school, and they become Sing Street, trying to write some "futurist" songs. But finding their own sound is tricky.
As this scrappy band comes together, they take inspiration from the music around them, including pop bands like Duran Duran, The Cure and Spandau Ballet. Their own songs and clothing hilariously echo these styles as they try to find a way to connect with their audience while expressing themselves artistically. And the songs are fiendishly catchy, each accompanied by a hand-made music video that cleverly traces the boys' passion for music and their coming-of-age as artists in their own right, all within the context of the period. At the centre, Conor's journey is twisty, complex and hugely resonant. Walsh-Peelo is a very likeable actor who's thoroughly believable as a young guy trying desperately to act grown up, despite the terrible examples of his bickering parents and slacker brother.
Continue reading: Sing Street Review
Not fazed by their previous experiences, Lorraine and Ed Warren are still successful paranormal investigators and their reputations have made them known around the world. As they hunt for new cases to investigate they decide to travel to England, Enfield just outside London to help a single mother and her children who are being haunted by a nasty spirit.
Continue: The Conjuring 2 Trailer
Conor lives in Dublin and for the past 13 years, he's had a nice comfortable life. He lives with his brother and his mum and dad and was privileged enough to have a private education; however as his folks start having money problems Conor finds himself at the local school in surroundings he's unfamiliar with.
Nothing comes easy for the teen but he makes a couple of friends and when he spots a girl called Raphina, he knows that she's the girl he's meant to be with. Growing up in the 80's, you weren't anyone unless you were in a band and Conor has just hatched a plan in his mind that's sure to see him climb the social ladder - and more importantly win the heart of his new beau - Conor is going to start a band and Raphina is going to be the lead star in their first music video. The only problem is at the moment there's no band.
Changing his name to Cosmo and recruiting some more guys to join his band, Cosmo sets fame and the girl of his dreams in his sights.
Filmmaking siblings Lana and Andy Wachowski never do anything by halves. The Matrix was a genre-changing blockbuster followed by two head-scratching sequels that ramped everything up a bit too much. Speed Racer was simply too much eye-candy for most viewers. And Cloud Atlas' intertwined storylines left audiences both exhausted and exhilarated. Now they've taken on the space action adventure with unfettered gusto, creating an utterly bonkers story that can't help but keep us thoroughly entertained.
So it turns out that Jupiter (Mila Kunis), an immigrant cleaner in Chicago, is actually the recurrence of a powerful matriarch whose empire runs the universe as a big business. Her three children (Eddie Redmayne, Douglas Booth and Tuppence Middleton) are tussling over control, because their mother's re-appearance changes their inheritance rights. Chased by bounty hunters, Jupiter is rescued by Caine (Channing Tatum) and his cohort Stinger (Sean Bean), who help her navigate the complex galactic society to claim her genetic rights. But each of the three children has plans for her. And as she zips back and forth across the universe, Jupiter realises that she's going to need to rise to the occasion if she wants to save herself. And Earth.
The Wachowskis clearly understand that the story is far too complicated to make much sense, so they only provide enough information to hold the audience's interest. Large plot threads and characters pop up and disappear at random, while Jupiter's own journey lurches through a series of contrived set-pieces and tense encounters that feel oddly unresolved. But none of that really matters, because the film is infused with a sardonic sense of humour that makes it enjoyable. Even the bad guys are intriguing; there's not much Redmayne can do with his leather-trousered grump, but at least he goes for it. Kunis has a great time with Jupiter's continual sexy costume changes, while Tatum performs a series of action scenes with his shirt off for no real reason. All of the cast members dive in without hesitation, using sheer charisma to make the characters a lot of fun to watch.
Continue reading: Jupiter Ascending Review
Too prickly for mainstream crowds and rather emotionally sentimental for arthouse fans, this drama may have trouble finding an audience. But it's a striking story with a strong personal kick. And it makes a vital point about global priorities without getting pushy about it. There's also another wonderfully brittle performance from Juliette Binoche at the centre.
She plays Rebecca, an intrepid war photojournalist who is covering the last moments of a suicide bomber in Kabul. When she's injured in the blast, her husband Marcus (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) rushes to her side. But back home in Ireland he tells her he can no longer cope with her career. He is dreading the ultimate phone call, after which he'll have to break the news to their daughters: moody teen Steph (Lauryn Canny) and high-maintenance pre-teen Lisa (Adrianna Cramer Curtis). So Rebecca decides to stop working and stay home, turning to close friends (Maria Doyle Kennedy and Larry Mullen Jr.) for support. Then Steph asks Rebecca to take her to visit a refugee camp in Kenya for a school project, and Rebecca is too politically aware to ignore the bigger story going on there, even if it puts her life in danger yet again.
Yes, the film's plot is somewhat contrived, propelling the characters into intense situations for dramatic purposes rather than because anything like this might happen (how many Irish schoolgirls travel to Kenya to write a school report?). But the issues the story raises are potent ones that really get under the skin, provoking thought about much deeper issues relating to both family dynamics and global politics. In this context, Rebecca's journey is breathtakingly important, and Binoche subtly brings out her inner conflict, revealing her warring inner yearnings in a way that's jarringly involving.
Continue reading: A Thousand Times Good Night Review
'Orphan Black' has returned for a second season and has already caused a stir worldwide with many praising the show for the originality of its approach and impressive actors. For those of you who have not seen the first season of the show, here are 5 reasons why you should definitely be catching up!
Orphan Black has returned for its second season, placing Canadian Television firmly on the map and already causing fans to bandy questions and solutions back and forth across the web. Very briefly, Orphan Black follows Sarah Manning, a con artist who witnesses the suicide of a woman who looks exactly like her. She assumes this woman's identity and begins a journey in which she meets a series of clones and begins to discover her origins.
Tatiana Maslany stars in Orphan Black.
So, without giving very much else away, for those who have yet to see it, here are five reasons why you should be watching Orphan Black:
Continue reading: 5 Reasons Why You Should Be Watching Orphan Black
Jupiter Jones has an unfortunate life, barely scraping by with her job cleaning toilets as a janitor. She wouldn't have thought that her life would ever be anything meaningful, but she couldn't be more wrong. One day she is captured and an attempt is made on her life, but she finds herself spectacularly rescued by a charming, if unusual-looking, warrior; a half-man, half-human hybrid who has been genetically modified for the interplanetary military. It's he who leads her to the truth about herself and her destiny. Having been born under a night sky where the stars aligned to form her extraordinary future, Jupiter is the foretold forthcoming Queen of the Universe who has been prophesised to usurp the power of the current King and Queen. Living in fear of their imminent fall from power, the rulers order her to be disposed of as soon as possible. Will Jupiter succeed in her rise to power, or will she be praying to return to her uneventful life on earth?
Continue: Jupiter Ascending Trailer
In 1898, Albert (Close) works at an upscale Dublin hotel, and no one suspects that he's actually a woman. Quietly going about his work while saving to open a tobacco shop, Albert is unassuming and relentlessly polite. Then he's asked to share his room with visiting painter Hubert (McTeer), who learns his secret and reveals one of his own: he's a woman too. But Hubert has managed to have a normal married life. This inspires Albert to pursue the hotel maid Helen (Wasikowska), which is complicated by her lusty relationship with handyman Joe (Johnson).
Continue reading: Albert Nobbs Review
Diamond Dogs was released on this day (May 24) in 1974.
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Continuing on from the 2013 hit, this sequel blends fact and fiction to follow real-life...
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Not fazed by their previous experiences, Lorraine and Ed Warren are still successful paranormal investigators...
Filmmaking siblings Lana and Andy Wachowski never do anything by halves. The Matrix was a...
Too prickly for mainstream crowds and rather emotionally sentimental for arthouse fans, this drama may...
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Based on a true story, this introspective film seems to suggest that these events aren't...
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