James White is in his twenties and struggling to cope with the stresses that life keeps throwing at him. His mother Gail is seriously ill, and while he's happy to be there for her, he is desperate for some time away from New York to re-evaluate his life. Unfortunately, his vacation just turns into a whirlwind of self-destruction; indulging in more drugs, drink and generally less than honorable behaviour than ever before. He insists that his return will bring some real changes in his life, he might even get a job, but it's clear to his family and the people who he meets along the way that he's got a long way to go before he can take adulthood by the horns and learn some responsibility. He needs the love of his mother right now, but he's too terrified at the thought that she might leave him any day.
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For a horror film, this is unusually subtle and disturbing, rather than all-out scary, quietly profiling a creepy central character in ways that are designed to provoke the audience. Yes, this sociopath is realistically sinister, but even more challenging is the way filmmaker Campos deliberately manipulates us with his clever filmmaking. Although we wait in vain for the film to deepen into something more meaningful.
It all takes place in Paris, as Simon (Corbet) arrives from America to recover from a messy break-up. A young academic, he has no difficulty chatting intelligently to strangers, but he hires the hooker Victoria (Diop) for more earthly pleasures. Then he decides that isn't enough, and worms his way into her life, making himself indispensable while encouraging her to blackmail her high-profile clients for cash. When this doesn't go as planned, Simon rekindles a romance with another young woman, Marianne (Rosseau), who isn't quite as susceptible to his charms.
Like Patricia Highsmith's iconic Ripley, Simon is a charmer who has no moral centre at all. So we like him from the start and then become increasingly troubled by his twisted actions. And what makes the film even more intriguing is the way it's impossible to tell whether his motivations are villainous or callous. Corbet plays this perfectly, letting us see Simon's darker attitudes (to him, women are little more than sex objects) and pathetic insecurities. Meanwhile, the actresses make the most of their deliberately under-developed characters.
Continue reading: Simon Killer Review
After going missing for two years, Martha (Olsen) phones her sister Lucy (Paulson) for help, then goes to stay with Lucy and her husband Ted (Dancy) in a lakeside house. Martha says she's been living with a boyfriend, but actually she was in a cult-like commune with her friend Zoe (Krause), working a farm under the leadership of the charismatic Patrick (Hawkes). Renamed Marcy May, she was coaxed into sharing everything there, including her body, and now she's not quite sure what's real and what isn't. And also whether she actually got away.
Continue reading: Martha Marcy May Marlene Review
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For a horror film, this is unusually subtle and disturbing, rather than all-out scary, quietly...