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Finding You

Review, Theatrical, This Week Leave a Comment

This fast-paced romantic drama/comedy sets itself up within the first fifteen minutes. Does it feel like you’ve seen what you need to see in that time? Kind of.

Within the first three minutes, New Yorker Finley Sinclair (played by Rose Reid) has unsuccessfully auditioned for a prestigious music school, suggests she’d better start over, and is on a plane abroad. Within the first five, we’ve had a cheesy line from bad-boy movie star, Beckett Rush (played by Jedidiah Goodacre). She’s ‘seen the headlines’, she ‘knows his type’.

Beckett is starring in a weird Lord of the Rings rip-off, and, ironically, is blasted by the director (Tom Everett Scott) for taking a more ‘subtle approach’ in hisacting style. The female lead in the blockbuster being filmed is a total airhead (Katherine McNamara), of course, and Beckett looks pensive. He’s obviously looking for something more, and the down-to-Earth New Yorker has got to be the one.

Finley starts her classes, and in Irish Studies, each student is asked to spend twenty hours with a senior citizen. But alas, her assigned ‘senior’ is a ‘crazy witch’ (Vanessa Redgrave)! Finley needs this grade to get into music school, so they are going to be friends whether this crazy witch likes it or not! She’s given a ‘good on you, lass’ when the nurse asks if she entered the witch’s room without permission. It’s uncomfortable.

Beckett shows Finley around Ireland because ‘you never know what’ll happen tomorrow’. They’d better take a chance on love! Unfortunately, neither character is quite likeable enough to really root for them.

Beckett asks Finley to the local dance and the scenes that follow are lively. Nice shots of the harbour, fairy lights littering the pier, and Finley gets down on the fiddle with a group of local musicians. It’s fun, and it does improve slightly from here.

Without giving too much away, everything turns out alright. There are plot points aplenty, but if you miss half the film, don’t fret. Look, it’s a little (or a lot) too packed with poorly-written cliches but if you’re after a mood-booster and love a soapie, you might enjoy it.

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WRIGHT: New Blood

WA Fashion brand WRIGHT is known for challenging the norm. They have done this again in their latest film project Watch The World Go By.
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Out in the Open

Festival, Film Festival, Review, This Week Leave a Comment

Intemperie, the Spanish name for Out in the Open, means ‘outdoors’ or ‘the elements’ in English, and these translations precisely describe the look of the film. Nearly the entire running time is spent in the hot, arid landscape of Andalucía – so rarely does the action venture indoors that it seems alien to even be ‘in’ a room. In fact, the occasional time spent away from the elements takes place mostly inside wells, caves or roofless huts. It’s as though the director, Benito Zambrano, is averse to conventional housing. Nevertheless, the depiction of the Southern Spanish savanna is one of the many highlights of Out in the Open. The cinematography by Pau Esteve Birba is amazing, the sweeping pans and intimate close-ups equally affecting.

Zambrano, with writers Pablo and Daniel Remón, won a Goya for best adapted screenplay (from the Jesús Carrasco novel) and the script is laden with themes of guilt and forgiveness, as seen through the lens of post-war, Francoist Spain. The first shot is of a boy running through the fields, shortly followed by scenes of farm hands chasing a hare during a harvest. The excitement is cut short, and the foreshadowing begins, when the foreman shoots said animal dead. Luis Callejo plays this bastion of landed power with ugly menace.

The runaway boy, or Niño, is played with incredible maturity by Jaime López, and as the film progresses, we gradually learn what it is he’s running from. Early on in his flight, he tries to steal food from a wandering shepherd, the Moor, and after initial mistrust on both sides, they begin to warm to one another. Luis Tosar is gruff and resigned as the Moor, an ex-soldier whose default setting appears to be practical nonchalance, and he has a nice line in aphorisms – “You don’t need to buy a village to burn it down. You just need fire and guts. But with fire and guts, you may get smoke in the head.”

The pace is just about perfect, there’s no baggage, and the set-pieces are extremely well handled. One confrontation at a well around the end of the first act is a properly satisfying sequence, tense and bloody, with a clever call-back to a throwaway line from the foreman about the boy’s marksmanship. Another scene at another well involving a desperate disabled war-veteran is full of edge and pathos. And the climax is suitably rewarding with an added gesture from the Moor to Niño that will most likely set him on the path to a rosier future than he might have been afforded earlier in the piece. When the Moor tells him that children ‘can’t be held responsible for the actions of men’, it’s tempting to read this last line as a kind of catch-all apology for the crimes and transgressions of the past.

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The Man in the Hat

Review, Theatrical, This Week Leave a Comment

The unnamed titular character of ‘The Man in the Hat’ witnesses a possible crime and flees the scene in his Fiat 500, while five goons chase him in their Citroen Dyane.

However, this languid car chase serves as the inciting incident for a blissful travelogue of French countryside. Almost entirely bereft of dialogue, this physical comedy is wholly crowded with incident, as the protagonist (Ciaran Hinds) encounters various eccentric characters in unusual situations. As a range of distinct figures frequently re-appear, the presence of the man in the hat seems to have an uplifting effect on them.

For example, a character credited as Damp Man (Stephen Dillane) is perpetually wet and despondent to a suicidal extent. However, each time the man in the hat meets him, Damp Man’s mood gradually becomes more jovial, as well as his clothes drier. In this way, visual cues and mise-en-scene symbolise a shifting atmosphere of positivity and the effect of kindness from strangers.

These vignettes provide a Fellini-esque sensibility, as the film canvasses aspects of European culture through evocative landscapes, as well as scenes of bull-fighting and enjoying local cuisines. Meanwhile, amusing moments are interspersed – such as mistaken identity, spilling food and losing a shoe – all of which instil an unpredictability to the film that enlivens the experience. Not only this, lively musical interludes steer the film’s atmosphere, as jazz bands on the street bring people together and furnish affection and kindliness.

Of course, these disparate scenes are all connected through the prism of the man in the hat, as Hinds utilises facial expressions alone to communicate emotions and feelings. In a performance reminiscent of Mr. Bean, Hinds is adept at conveying a clumsiness in compromising situations, as wide-open eyes scream across his face, but he also showcases affability through a gentle smile as acts of generosity from him and strangers typify the film.

The Man in the Hat lives in a shadow of Jacques Tati and Buster Keaton with its silent movie slapstick, but glows in the warmth of the French countryside. As each character exudes a big-hearted generosity, a soft tenderness underlies the smile-inducing humour of the film.

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Resident Evil Village

Game, Gaming, Home, Horror, Review, This Week Leave a Comment

2017’s Resident Evil VII was a bold reinvention for Capcom’s long-lived spookshow series. Changing the action to a first person perspective, and delivering a story that felt like an even more demented riff on The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and other hillbilly horrors, the game was a tense, engaging triumph. Naturally, excitement for a potential sequel was high and now Resident Evil Village (VIIIage – geddit?) has arrived and despite minor flaws, it’s pretty bloody good.

Resident Evil Village puts you back in the shoes of VII’s protagonist, and man voted Most Likely to Injure His Hands Constantly, Ethan Winters. After the events of VII, Ethan has managed to make a better life with his missus, Mia, and infant daughter Rose. That is until his world is shattered, his daughter flogged, and he finds himself wandering the Transylvanian vistas of a very unpleasant European village.

What follows, in a lot of ways, feels like a bigger budgeted remake of VII. You’ve got a demented family, multiple members of which you’ll have to face in unique encounters, and a central mystery to decipher before it’s too late. The difference, other than the more gothic aesthetic, is in terms of scale. Instead of sickening Louisiana swampland, Ethan will be trekking across icy European environments, imposing castles, hideous dungeons. Instead of facing endless mouldy blokes, you’ll come across werewolves, leathery undead acolytes, bug ladies, cyborgs and, of course, an enormous sheila the internet is super thirsty for. It’s a huge array of foes, and it’s great to see such enemy variety.

Of course, having so many enemies means Village is more focused on combat than the previous entry. And, one wonderful sequence where you’re disarmed aside, this is absolutely an action-based experience. It’s Aliens, not Alien, which is great if you’re up for it, but disappointing if you were hoping Capcom would continue leaning towards more psychological horror.

Resident Evil Village is more of a carnival ghost train than a nuanced horror yarn, but it’s so effectively realised – and consistently tense throughout – that you can’t help but get swept up in the wild story, creepy atmosphere and surprisingly emotionally resonant conclusion. If you like your horror of the “balls to the wall” variety, you’d be an idiot to miss out on this Village.

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