Tag Archives: Review

Martyrs Lane (Ruth Platt, 2021)

The spectre of unprocessed grief looms large in writer-director Ruth Platt’s Martyrs Lane, an effective British ghost story with religious undertones. Told almost entirely from a child’s point-of-view, it sees a devout minister’s daughter invite a believed angelic presence into her family’s home, only for the guest’s intentions to gradually turn sinister…

Full review for Sight & Sound

The Great Yokai War: Guardians (Takashi Miike, 2021)

Sixteen years and over 30 feature credits ago, Takashi Miike directed The Great Yokai War, one of the prolific Japanese filmmaker’s earliest forays into family-oriented fantasy. The film’s narrative incorporated various creatures from Japanese mythology, known as yōkai, whereby a modern boy is chosen to team up with them to destroy evil forces.

Now, Miike has directed a belated follow-up, The Great Yokai War: Guardians – although the standalone story by Yûsuke Watanabe (a veteran of Dragon Ball Z and Attack on Titan films) is really more a spiritual sequel, requiring no real understanding of its predecessor. This wildly entertaining fantasy adventure gets by on exuberant direction, game performances from a large ensemble, and lavish production design and makeup work. For a sense of the aesthetic, imagine a mix of Jim Henson’s Labyrinth, Guillermo del Toro’s Hellboy films and Clive Barker’s Nightbreed

Full review for Little White Lies

Our Ladies (Michael Caton-Jones, 2019)

Let’s call Our Ladies one of the new great British teen movies. Its journey to the screen is even older than its riotous protagonists: director and co-writer Michael Caton-Jones first optioned the rights to Alan Warner’s 1998 novel The Sopranos over 20 years ago…

Full review for Little White Lies

The Devil’s Deal (Lee Won-tae, 2021)

In 2019, Korean director Lee Won-tae broke through globally with The Gangster, the Cop, the Devil, a thriller that had already entered discussions for an English-language remake prior to receiving an international premiere out of competition at Cannes. On the basis of the high concept premise alone, you can see why there’s been eagerness to retell it with different cultural specifics: a crime boss finds himself teaming up with a local detective trying to bring him down, after the former barely survives a vicious attack by a suspected serial killer.

Lee’s follow-up, The Devil’s Deal, is another gangster thriller, albeit with less action genre crossover, making it less likely to inspire an overseas remake. This is not a comment on its quality; if anything, this is a more accomplished and richer crime saga than its entertainingly blunt and slick predecessor. It’s more that the plot of The Devil’s Deal is so rooted in the particulars of South Korea’s electoral politics that there’s a less immediately obvious way to translate the material. That said, the notion of there being minimal differences between politicians and underworld enforcers is all-too universal…

Full review for Little White Lies

I’m Your Man ( Maria Schrader, 2021)

Maria Schrader’s funny and touching I’m Your Man is a German romantic dramedy with light sci-fi touches that purposefully draws attention to its own artificiality and the (arguable) artificiality of many romantic customs. The reason? It concerns the growing bond between a sceptical woman and an artificial intelligence, as hosted in the body of a prospective humanoid partner…

Full review for The Skinny

Old (M. Night Shyamalan, 2021)

Adapted from Pierre Oscar Lévy and Frédérik Peeters’ graphic novel Sandcastle, M. Night Shyamalan’s Old takes a Twilight Zone-esque premise to wickedly entertaining, gruesome and occasionally touching places…

Full review for SciFiNow

Fear Street: 1666 (Leigh Janiak, 2021)

In covering each entry in director Leigh Janiak’s interconnected Fear Street trilogy as they drop weekly on Netflix, it’s been relatively easy to be vague with plot details. That said, the fun and freaky final instalment, subtitled 1666, is near impossible to discuss without spoiling some threads left dangling from parts one and two. So, to paraphrase Fear Street author RL Stine’s better-known horror series, reader beware…

Full review for Little White Lies

Fear Street: 1994 (Leigh Janiak, 2021)

Pre-global pandemic, a gamble was taken with a trilogy of gory films loosely based on YA-horror series Fear Street by RL Stine, all directed and co-written by Leigh Janiak. Twentieth Century Studios (née Fox) was originally set to distribute these three interconnected movies, each set in a different time period, in cinemas across three consecutive months in the summer of 2020.

With theatrical distribution disrupted that same year, production company Chernin Entertainment sold their experiment to Netflix, with the streaming giant now releasing the trilogy across three consecutive weeks. First up is the 1994-set film, directly inspired by that decade’s slasher genre revival, and it will be followed by trips to 1978 and 1666…

Full review for Little White Lies

WITCH: We Intend to Cause Havoc (Gio Arlotta, 2019)

Back in 2012, Malik Bendjelloul’s documentary Searching for Sugar Man explored undersung recording artist Rodriguez, a Detroit-born singer-songwriter. More specifically, the film looked at the unusual degree of success and influence his music exerted in apartheid-era South Africa. Its framing device sees two South African Rodriguez fans in the late 1990s journey to find out what happened to this relatively obscure musician in light of his studio album output ending in the 1970s.

The set-up of Gio Arlotta’s music documentary, WITCH, is certainly not identical to that of Bendjelloul’s film, but the rhythms of the editing bear a strong resemblance and it does also concern a small group’s pilgrimage to track down a musical titan from the 1970s that they want to bring to more people’s attention. That the journey of the film effectively starts in 2014, only two years after Sugar Man’s success, makes an intentional influence seem plausible…

Full review for Little White Lies

After Love (Aleem Khan, 2020)

In writer-director Aleem Khan’s debut feature, the great Joanna Scanlan is Mary/Fahima, a British Muslim convert residing in Dover with her husband Ahmed (Nasser Memarzia), a ferry captain to whom she’s been happily married for many years. In the film’s pre-credits sequence, their gentle domestic harmony is horribly disrupted, however, when Ahmed abruptly passes away in his armchair…

Full review for The Skinny