jboothmillard

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Reviews

Druk
(2020)

Another Round
This Danish film (also titled Druk, which means "bring drinking") is one I found out about from Awards Season, the leading actor was a big draw for me, but it did also sound like an interesting story, from Oscar, BAFTA, and Golden Globe nominated director Thomas Vinterberg (Festen, The Hunt, Far from the Madding Crowd). Basically, teachers Martin (BAFTA nominated Mads Mikkelsen), Tommy (Thomas Bo Larsen), Peter (Lars Ranthe) and Nikolaj (Magnus Millang) are colleagues and friends at a high school in Copenhagen. All four struggle with unmotivated students and feel that their lives have become boring and uneventful. At a dinner celebrating Nikolaj's 40th birthday, the group discuss a theory by psychiatrist Finn Skårderud, that having a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.05 makes you more creative and relaxed. While the group dismisses the theory, Martin, who is depressed due to his marriage failing, is inspired and starts to drink at work. The rest of the group eventually decides to join him, noting their experiences as an experiment to test Skårderud's theory. They agree to a set of rules: their BAC should never be below 0.05 and that they should not drink after 8:00pm. Within a short period of time, Martin, Tommy, Peter and Nikolaj find both their work and private lives more enjoyable. Martin particularly is delighted that he is finally managing to reconnect with his wife and children. The group find this positivity a reason to agree to take the experiment further, and the four increase the daily BAC limit to 0.10. Continuing to find their lives improved, the group decides to attempt binge drinking to observe how their bodies and minds respond. They all have a fun night, but after coming home drunk, both Martin and Nikolaj are confronted by their families. Martin's family express their worries that he is becoming an alcoholic, saying that he has been noticeably drunk for weeks. Martin and his wife Anika (Marie Bonnevie) have a heated argument, during which she admits to infidelity, and Martin leaves her. The group soon experience the negative consequences of the experiment and abandon it. Months later, all the members of the group have stopped drinking during the day except for Tommy, who has become an alcoholic. On day at work whilst drunk, Tommy boards his boat with his dog, he sails out on the ocean and dies in an accident. Following Tommy's funeral, the three remaining friends go out to dinner and are reluctant to drink the alcohol which is served. While dining, Martin receives a message from his wife who tells him that she is willing to give their marriage another chance. Martin, Peter and Nikolaj join the recently graduated students in celebrating and allow themselves to drink again while the partying takes place at the harbour. Martin, a former jazz ballet dancer, had for some time been urged by colleagues and refused to dance. In high spirits and influenced by the alcohol, Martin dances with the students and guests. His dance becomes increasingly energetic and joyous, and it ends as he leaps into the water, on a freeze frame of him in mid-air. Also starring Susse Wold as Rektor. Mikkelsen and his three co-stars give convincing performances as the drunken chums who find a new lease of life, their lessons whilst tipsy in the classroom and in the outdoors are fun to watch, with clever camerawork to capture the controlled inebriation and emotional moments, and it has both amusing and dramatic scenes that keep things moving nicely, a great comedy-drama. It won the Oscar for Best International Feature Film, it won the BAFTA for Best Film Not in the English Language, and Best Original Screenplay, and it Golden Globe was Best Motion Picture - Foreign Language. Very good!

Bacurau
(2019)

Bacurau
I recorded this Portuguese language film from television, I read more about it before watching it, it was described as something like a "multi-genre allegory", I didn't know what to expect, but I was prepared to give it a chance. Basically, in the near future, the people of Bacurau, a settlement in Serra Verde, in western Pernambuco, witness a series of unusual events, including telephone signals going down, the settlement unexplainably disappearing from online maps, flying saucer-shaped drones chasing travellers and a couple of motor bikers from Rio de Janeiro passing by. These strange occurrences happen following the death of Carmelita (Lia de Itamaracá), a matriarch of the village, The villagers and other relatives, including her granddaughter Teresa (Bárbara Colen), have gathered for her funeral. During this time, there is a dispute over water rights from the local river, with water being dammed upstream in a collusion of which the mayor Tony Junior (Thardelly Lima) is a part. He visits Bacurau in his re-election campaign and is clearly hated by the people of the village. Meanwhile, the villagers are forced to have water delivered by truck from elsewhere. Another strange incident occurs when the truck is shot at, resulting in multiple leaks. When dozens of horses appear in town, two men go to investigate the nearby farm from where they presumably escaped and find the whole family murdered. As the two men leave the property, they are executed by the motor bikers. This couple rendezvous with a group of foreigners led by Michael (Udo Kier) and are apprehended for killing the two men. After receiving unheard instructions through earpieces, the foreigners execute the motor bikers and argue over who did the killing. As the death toll rises and a nine-year-old boy is slaughtered in cold blood, Pacote (Thomas Aquino) deduces the town will be attacked and the people prepare to defend themselves. When the foreigners arrive, the locals kill them, except for Michael, who is captured. Following the battle, Tony Junior (Thardelly Lima) comes to Bacurau and Michael calls his name; Tony denies knowing him. The mayor is sent away half-naked and tied up to a donkey. It ends with Michael being buried alive in an underground cell while shouting that "this is only the beginning". Also starring Silvero Pereira as Lunga, Rubens Santos as Erivaldo, Wilson Rabelo as Plinio, Carlos Francisco as Damiano, and Sônia Braga as Domingas. The film is part spaghetti western, horror, thriller, action, science-fiction and political, I can agree with at least half of those genres being included. I'm not going to pretend I understood anything going on, apart from the main plot that weird things are happening in a small, secluded Brazilian town with mysterious characters, but there were enough moments, some brutal and bloody, that caught my attention, and it was oddness that kept me watching, so it is a watchable drama (that's the simple genre to define it as). Good!

Star Wars: Episode VIII - The Last Jedi
(2017)

Star Wars: Episode VIII - The Last Jedi
The Force Awakens was a brilliant comeback for the successful space franchise, peaking as the third highest-grossing movie in the world, and good for Disney who paid millions to acquire it; naturally hopes were high that the second instalment in the return series would be as good, directed by Rian Johnson (Brick, Looper, Knives Out). Basically, following the battle of Starkiller Base, General Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher, in her last film) is leading the Resistance forces in evacuating their base when the First Order fleet arrives. Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) goes against orders and leads a costly counterattack that destroys a First Order dreadnought. The remaining Resistance escapes into hyperspace, but the First Order uses a device to track them, and attacks again. Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) cannot bring himself to fire at the lead Resistance ship after sensing his mother Leia is on board, but his wingmen destroy the bridge, killing most of the Resistance's leaders. Leia is dragged into space but survives by using the Force. While Leia recovers, Vice-Admiral Holdo (Laura Dern) takes over command of the Resistance. Running low on fuel, the remaining fleet is pursued by the First Order. Meanwhile, former storm trooper Finn (John Boyega) wakes up from his coma, and he asks for Rey (Daisy Ridley). Rey has just arrived on the planet Ahch-To with Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo) and R2-D2 (Jimmy Vee) on the Millenium Falcon to find Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill). Luke doesn't want to see her or know who she is and why she has sought him out. After initially saying that the Jedi should end, he hears what happened to Han Solo, and is encouraged by R2-D2. Luke has a change of heart and agrees to give Rey three lessons in the ways of the Force. Rey and Kylo begin communicating through the Force, which puzzles them both. Kylo tells Rey that Luke feared his power. Luke confesses that he thought about killing Kylo, sensing that Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis) was corrupting him. This prompted Kylo to destroy Luke's new Jedi Order, and caused him to disappear and self-exile himself. Convinced that Kylo can be redeemed, Rey leaves Ahch-To. Luke prepares to burn the Jedi library but hesitates when the spirit of master Yoda (Frank Oz) appears. Yoda uses the Force to summon a bolt of lightning to destroy the library and encourages Luke to learn from his failure. Meanwhile, Poe entrusts Finn, mechanic Rose Tico (Kelly Marie Tran), and BB-8 with a secret mission to disable the First Order's tracking device. Maz Kanata (Lupita Nyong'o) directs them to the casino town of Canto Bight, where they meet the hacker DJ (Benicio Del Toro). The local security pursues them, but they escape Canto Bight with the help of stable hand children and racing animals they set free. Finn, Rose, and DJ infiltrate Snoke's flagship but are captured by Captain Phasma (Gwendoline Christie). Kylo brings Rey to Snoke, who reveals that he connected their minds to discover Luke's whereabouts. Holdo plans to evacuate the remaining Resistance members using small transport vessels. But Poe believes her plan is cowardly and futile and leads a mutiny. Leia recovers but also wishes to proceed with the evacuation and stuns Poe with a blaster. Holdo remains aboard the ship as a decoy to mislead Snoke's fleet as the others flee to an abandoned base on Crait. DJ buys his freedom by revealing the Resistance's plan to General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson), and the First Order fleet fire at the evacuation transports, with many being destroyed. Kylo is ordered to kill Rey, but instead kills Snoke and defeats his Praetorian Guard with her help. Rey hopes that Kylo has abandoned the Dark Side, but he instead asks her to rule the galaxy with him. She refuses and they battle for control of Luke's lightsabre, with the weapon being broken. Holdo sacrifices herself by slicing through Snoke's flagship at lightspeed, crippling the First Order fleet. Rey escapes the destruction while Kylo declares himself Supreme Leader. BB-8 frees Finn and Rose who fight Phasma, she is defeated and falls to her death, and the pair join the survivors on Crait. When the First Order arrives, Poe, Finn, and Rose attack with obsolete speeders. Rey and Chewbacca draw TIE fighters away in the Millennium Falcon, while Rose stops Finn from sacrificing himself. The First Order penetrates the Resistance fortress using a siege cannon. The Resistance and First Order are surprised when Luke suddenly appears on the battlefield, allowing the surviving Resistance to escape. Kylo orders the First Order's forces to fire on Luke, but they fail to harm him. Kylo and Luke engages in a lightsabre duel, but when he manages to strike Luke, Kylo realises that Luke is not physically present, but projecting his image through the Force. Rey helps the remaining Resistance escape on the Falcon. Luke has exhausted his power and dies peacefully on Ahch-To, becoming one with the Force. Rey and Leia sense his death, and Leia tells Rey that the Resistance can rise again. At Canto Bight, the stable hands recount the story of Luke Skywalker, and one of the children is seen moving a broom with the Force and gazing into space. Also starring Anthony Daniels as C-3PO, Billie Lourd as Lieutenant Connix, Veronica Ngo as Paige Tico, Justin Theroux as Master Codebreaker, Adrian Edmondson as Captain Peavey, Mark Lewis Jones as Captain Canady, Chewing Gum's Michaela Coel as Resistance Monitor, Ralph Ineson as Senior First Order Officer, Shauna Macdonald as Temporary Command Center Resistance Pilot, Andy Nyman as Jail Guard, Lily Cole as Party Girl Lovey, Warwick Davis as Wodibin, the voice of Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Slowen Lo, Gareth Edwards as Resistance Trench Soldier, and Edgar Wright as Resistance Trooper. The late great Fisher and Hamill remain as likeable as they were in the originals, Ridley and Boyega continue to delight with their breakout roles, Isaac is given a bit more to do, Driver gets more depth as the villain, and there is a terrific supporting cast, including recognisable talents like Dern, Gleeson, and Edmondson. I'm happy that this direct sequel continued to meet and fulfil my expectations, the story is well written and played out, the chase, fight and battle sequences are highly exciting, and the special effects are amazing, another triumph and I cannot wait for the conclusion in this new trilogy, a splendid science-fiction fantasy action adventure. It was nominated the Oscars for Best Visual Effects, Best Original Score for John Williams, Best Sound Editing, and Best Sound Mixing, and it was nominated the BAFTAs for Best Sound, and Best Special Visual Effects. Star Wars was number 24 on The 100 Greatest Pop Culture Icons. Outstanding!

Soul
(2020)

Soul
I did manage to watch computer-animated Disney/Pixar movie Onward before the cinemas closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but this movie was delayed. Many people would have signed up to the Disney+ on-demand service to watch this and other cancelled films, but I chose to wait until it was released on DVD, directed by Pete Docter (Monsters, Inc., Up, Inside Out) and Kemp Powers (One Night in Miami). Basically, Joe Gardner (Jamie Foxx) is a passionate jazz pianist and music teacher living in New York City who dreams of playing jazz professionally. His mother Libba (Phylicia Rashad), who works as a seamstress, insists that he should be teaching full time, fearing for his financial security. One day, talking to former student turned professional drummer Lamont "Curley" Baker Curly (Questlove), Joe learns of a spot as pianist in the band of jazz legend Dorothea Williams (Angela Bassett). He auditions at a music club for Dorothea, who is impressed with Joe's piano playing, and hires him to perform for that night's show. Joe leaves excitedly and so distracted that he narrowly avoids being killed by various fatal hazards, including falling objects and traffic. Finally, after ending a phone call, he falls down a manhole. Joe finds himself as a soul heading into the "Great Beyond". Unwilling to die before his big break, he tries to escape but ends up in the "Great Before", where unborn souls prepare for life on Earth. The counsellors, all named Jerry (Alice Braga, Richard Ayoade, Wes Studi, Fortune Feimster and Zenobia Shroff), explain that each soul has a badge which grants passage to Earth once all personality traits have been filled. Mistaken for a mentor, Joe is assigned to train a cynical soul named 22 (Tina Fey), who has always lived in the Great Before and wants to avoid Earth. 22 takes Joe to a place where he can see key moments in his life, and there they discover he is in a coma in hospital. Seeing his situation and his passion for music, which she claims not to care for, 22 agrees to let him help find her "spark" to complete her badge and then give it to him so that he can return home. 22 is taken to the various activity places to try and find what she is passionate about, with no success. So, they visit, "the zone", a place that souls can enter when their passions create a euphoric trance, but which can also become a trap for obsessed lost souls. They meet Moonwind (Graham Norton), the captain of a galleon carrying hippie mystics, who help Joe locate his body on Earth. Joe is too eager to get back into his body before Moonwind can explain anything, and he takes 22 with him. This results in the souls of Joe and 22 entering different bodies; 22 has entered Joe's body, and Joe has ended up in the body of a therapy cat. 22 talks with Joe's voice, while Joe cannot be understood as a cat. After leaving the hospital, 22 and Joe seek Moonwind on Earth, who works as a sign twirler, he agrees to meet them later at the jazz club to restore Joe to his own body. Meanwhile, 22 finds herself fascinated by the world around her, discovering the senses of smell and taste for pizza, washing and dressing, and a real interest in music. Joe is happy watching her experience the small moments in life, while also communicating with his friends and family. In Joe's body, 22 has poignant conversations with student Connie (Cora Champommier) who is considering quitting the school before performing a trombone solo and changing her mind, and barber Dez (Donnell Rawlings) who fixes Joe's hair and talks about originally wanting to become a veterinarian. After 22 rips Joe's pants while bending down, the duo goes to see Libba to have it fixed. 22 repeats Joe's words whispered to her and makes his mother finally understand and accept his passion for music, and she offers Joe his late father's blue suit for his upcoming gig. Meanwhile, back in the Great Beyond, obsessive accountant Terry (Rachel House) who tallies souls discovers that Joe is missing, and heads to Earth in order to send him back and restore the count. As the day ends, Joe and 22 rendezvous with Moonwind, but 22 has an epiphany and decides she must find her purpose on Earth and wants to stay in Joe's body. As she flees with Joe tailing behind, Terry catches up and brings both back to the Great Before. There, 22 realises her badge is filled out, Joe insists that it was because of his traits, and that she did not truly find her "spark". 22 angrily tosses the badge at him and disappears into the zone. A Jerry tells Joe that a spark is not a soul's purpose in life, but only an indication that it is ready to live. Refusing to believe this statement, Joe uses 22's badge to return to Earth. In his own body, Joe performs at the gig and the show is a success, but he is not completely satisfied. He realises, despite fulfilling a dream, his life has not significantly changed. He looks at objects collected by 22 while in his body, and recalls the moments they enjoyed together, he realises that these moments are what created the "spark". By playing piano, he enters the zone with the intent to return her badge but discovers that she has become a lost soul. He chases her down and reminds her of the time she spent on Earth, making her realise that her passion to live is the "spark", and she is restored to normal. Joe returns the badge and escorts 22 out of the Great Before for her journey to Earth. As Joe prepares to enter the Great Beyond, a Jerry stops him and offers another chance at life in gratitude for finally inspiring 22 to live. The obsessive Jerry is tricked by another to believe that he has completed his count of souls so that Joe can be ignored. Joe returns to his body on Earth and starts the next day committed to enjoying his entire life. Also starring Sakina Jaffrey as Doctor, June Squibb as Gerel, Jeannie Tirado as Principal Arroyo, and Ulka Simone Mohanty as Mother Teresa. Foxx as the enthusiastic musician and Fey as the sulky unborn soul who has no enthusiasm for anything are great voice casting. As long as you can concentrate the existential story is interesting, it has good humour, it has emotional moments, the music is magnificent, and the animation is brilliantly colourful and imaginative, overall, a most watchable animated fantasy comedy-drama. It won the Oscars for Best Animated Feature Film, Best Original Score for Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross, and Jon Batiste, and it was nominated for Best Sound, it won the BAFTAs for Best Animated Feature Film, and Best Original Score, and it was nominated for Best Sound, and it won the Golden Globes for Best Motion Picture - Animated, and Best Original Score. Very good!

Music
(2021)

Music
Mark Kermode gave his opinion of this movie on The Film Review for BBC News, he said it was "woefully misjudged", "a misguided mess", and "toe-curlingly bad and I would advise you to avoid it". To me, it is opinions like that, and of course the nominations and wins at the Razzies, that increase my curiosity, so I still watched this, the Razzie winning directorial debut of singer Sia (also writing and producing). Basically, following the death of her grandmother, Millie (Mary Kay Place), newly sober drug dealer and alcoholic Kazu "Zu" Gamble (Razzie winning, and Golden Globe nominated Kate Hudson) becomes the sole guardian of her younger, nonverbal autistic half-sister, Music (Razzie winning Maddie Ziegler). On her first morning with Music, Zu is unable to braid her hair and her half-sister has a meltdown. Her neighbour, Ebo (Leslie Odom Jr.), comes to help calm Music down, and Zu and Ebo form a friendship. Zu also receives support from George (Hector Elizondo), the compassionate superintendent. Zu realises that Music's whole life is a schedule, from what she has for breakfast (eggs and ketchup) to when she goes for a walk, and Music's sensitivity to sound means she is always wearing a pair of headphones. Meanwhile, Zu is still dealing drugs with the help of her friend Rudy (Ben Schwartz) but is unable to pay him back as she is unemployed. Zu learns that Ebo is a boxer who teaches children boxing, one of them being Felix (Beto Calvillo), who lives in the apartment building opposite Music and is often seen watching her. Zu learns how to take care of Music with Ebo's help but continues to deal drugs to financially support her dream to move to Costa Rica. Ebo reveals to Zu that his ex-wife left him for his brother, and she promises to accompany him to their wedding. When Zu and Music go for a walk, Zu becomes distracted, and Music is stung by a bee. She suffers an allergic reaction and is taken to hospital. Zu cannot pay for the treatment, and she left a bag full of drugs in the park. Distressed, Zu begins drinking and suffers a relapse. She is involved in a fight with Ebo's neighbour, and the police are called; she reveals that she is on probation. The same night, Felix's parents get into a physical altercation which results in his father (Luoyong Wang) accidentally killing him when he tries to intervene. Sometime later, Ebo attends his brother's wedding, without Zu. Meanwhile, Zu brings Music to a centre for disabled adults, but is unable to bring herself to leave her there. They decide to join Ebo at the wedding, where Zu and Ebo share a kiss on stage, and prepare to sing. Music interrupts and begins to sing herself. Later, Music is given a new support dog, that Felix had applied her for before his death. Throughout the film, musical dance sequences take place inside Music's mind, showing how she views the world. Songs and dance sequences: "Oh Body", "Best Friend", "1+1","Insecure", "Music", "Beautiful Things Can Happen", "Could I Love with No Fear", "Easy", "Mountains", "Together", and "Courage to Change". Also starring Juliette Lewis as Evelyn, Kathy Najimy as Evelyn's Mom, Celeste Den as Felix's Mom, and Sia as Popstar Without Borders. Hudson with a shaved head is unconvincing as the substance dependent young woman trying to care for her autistic half-sister, the casting of neurotypical actor Ziegler is deeply problematic, and Odom Jr. Is okay as the friend next door. This film received negative reviews almost immediately, and there was controversy mainly that they did not cast a neuro-diverse actor, and the depiction of restraint (pinning Music down to the ground to calm her down). Sia was initially defensive of the film, but has since agreed with criticisms, admitting to making mistakes, and apparently there was recutting, but it hasn't really made a difference. The music video sequences, representing how Music sees the world, may be colourful and perhaps catchy, but they are misplaced in what is supposed to be a serious insight into the hardships of caring for a disabled person. It is just an unconvincing, messy, misguided, and at times almost uncomfortable to watch, a terrible musical drama. It was nominated the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy (why?!), and it was nominated the Razzie for Worst Picture. Adequate!

Promising Young Woman
(2020)

Promising Young Woman
The Oscar and Golden Globe nominated directorial debut for actress Emerald Fennell (Call the Midwife, The Crown) was making news not long before it got caught in Awards Season, because of its "female empowerment" theme, and the controversial story to bring it to light, I was looking forward to seeing it. Basically, Cassandra "Cassie" Thomas (Oscar and Golden Globe nominated Carey Mulligan, also producing) is a thirty-year-old medical school dropout who lives an uneventful existence, still living with her parents Stanley (Clancy Brown) and Susan (Jennifer Coolidge). She also works a dead-end job as a waitress at a cheap coffee shop with her only friend Gail (Laverne Cox). But secretly, Cassie spends her nights pretending to be drunk, and helpless in clubs, allowing men to take her to their homes. When the men are about to take advantage of her, she reveals her sobriety and shocks them, making them think twice next time they approach a vulnerable woman. At the coffee shop, Cassie is reunited with a former medical school classmate, Ryan Cooper (Bo Burnham). After some banter, Cassie spits in Ryan's coffee, but he still drinks it anyway and asks to take her out. She gives him a fake phone number. Meanwhile, Stanley and Susan continually express concerns over Cassie's lack of ambitions and hint that she should move out. Ryan returns to the coffee shop after realising Cassie gave him a fake number, she has a change of heart and agrees to go out with him. Although Ryan appears nice enough, Cassie doesn't let him get too close to her. During a conversation, Ryan mentions his old colleague Alexander "Al" Monroe (Chris Lowell), who is getting married. Years earlier, Al raped her best friend Nina Fisher, who was too drunken to know what she was doing. Cassie and Nina reported it, but it was not taken seriously and there was no investigation by the school or legal system. This led to Nina committing suicide and Cassie dropping out of medical school and faking drunkenness in clubs to catch out other predatory men. Cassie is disturbed and begins a plan to exact revenge on Al and the other people who she knows were involved in the aftermath of Nina's rape. She meets another former classmate and friend, Madison McPhee (Alison Brie), who did not believe Nina was raped. Cassie gets Madison drunk and hires a man to take Madison to a hotel room. Madison has no memory of what happened and leaves several distraught voicemails for Cassie, concerned she was raped herself. Cassie next lures her teenager Amber into her car by posing as a makeup artist for her favourite pop band. Amber is the daughter of Elizabeth Walker (Connie Britton), the medical school dean who dismissed Nina's case for lack of evidence. She meets Walker pretending that she wants to resume her education, and questions her about Nina's case. When Walker explains away her actions, Cassie tells her she dropped Amber off at a dorm room with a group of older drunk male students. Walker is terrified for her daughter's safety and tries to call Amber, only to see that Cassie has it. In fear, she apologises for her inaction and not believing Nina. Following this, Cassie admits that she only left Amber at a diner where she is "stupid" enough to believe the boy band will be, and Cassie leaves. Cassie forgets to meet Ryan for a date, disappointing him. That night, Cassie lures another man into taking her home man. Whilst leaving, Ryan catches them, who is hurt over being stood up, and leaves. Cassie's next target is a former lawyer, Jordan Greene (Alfred Molina), who harassed Nina into dropping her charges. Greene is remorseful, having had a nervous breakdown over his guilt, and Cassie forgives him. After visiting Nina's mother (Molly Shannon), who urges her to move on, Cassie abandons her revenge plans. She apologises to Ryan and they fall in love. Madison confronts Cassie outside her house, desperate to know what happened after their lunch. Cassie reassures her that nothing happened. Madison gives her an old phone containing a video of Nina's rape that she kept before warning her to never contact her again. Watching it, Cassie is shocked and devastated to see Ryan among the rapists. She confronts him and threatens to release the video unless he tells her where Al's bachelor party is being held. Ryan tells her and insists she forgive him, but Cassie refuses. Cassie arrives at Al's bachelor party posing as a stripper, dressed as a sexy nurse with a colourful wig, spikes the drinks of all Al's friends, and takes Al upstairs. Assuming she is giving him a private dance, and accepting her reason for putting on handcuffs, he is cuffed to the bed. Once cuffed, Cassie reveals her identity, showing Al the rap video, and demanding that he apologise. Terrified, seeing she has a knife, he tearfully apologises and insists it was a long time ago. As she starts carving "Nina" onto Al's chest, he manages to break free and fatally suffocates Cassie with a pillow. The next morning, Al's friend Joe (Max Greenfield) finds him with Cassie, he realises that she is dead and consoles Al when he explains what happened. Joe convinces Al that no-one knows that she was at the shack, and they drag Cassie's body to burn it in a makeshift furnace. Her parents file a missing person report, and the police begin to investigate. Ryan tells them Cassie was mentally disturbed and does not tell them where she was going. The wedding takes place, with Ryan in attendance. During the ceremony, Ryan receives several scheduled texts from Cassie. At the same time, Greene receives a package from Cassie with a video of Nina's rape and instructions to give it to the police in the event of her disappearance. Also, Gail finds a half heart-shaped necklace with Cassie's name under the cash register; Cassie was wearing the matching necklace with Nina's name on it when she was killed. The police discover her burnt remains and the necklace, and arrest Al at his wedding for the murder. Cassie's final message to Ryan reads "Enjoy the wedding. Love Cassie and Nina." Also starring Adam Brody as Jerry, Christopher Mintz-Plasse as Neil, Sam Richardson as Paul, and Ray Nicholson as Jim. Mulligan gives a brilliant performance as the young woman flitting between sweet and spiky and often being wildly persuasive and then unnervingly threatening to the characters that deserve punishment. This film has a superbly acid-tongued script, that makes important points about why claims of rape should be taken seriously, the lead character is both fascinating and at times scary, but we always remember her pain and reasons for what she is doing. You are gripped throughout as to which direction it will go, it is darkly funny when it can be, the ending is shocking but equally smart, and the pop music soundtrack (including an orchestral version of Britney Spears's "Toxic") makes for good listening, it is a great stylish take on the revenge movie, a clever black comedy thriller. It won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay for Emerald Fennell, and it was nominated for Best Motion Picture of the Year, and Best Film Editing, it won the BAFTAs for Outstanding British Film of the Year, Best Original Screenplay, and it was nominated for Best Film, Best Editing, Original Score for Anthony Willis, and Best Casting, and it was nominated the Golden Globes for Best Screenplay, and Best Motion Picture - Drama. Very good!

Emma.
(2020)

Emma
I'd already seen the Gwyneth Paltrow version of the movie based on the popular book by Jane Austen, I did see the trailer for this new version in cinemas, but obviously coronavirus cancelled the release of it, so I watched it on DVD. Basically, set in Regency-era England, wealthy and beautiful Emma Woodhouse (Golden Globe nominated Anya Taylor-Joy) is seeking a new companion, after her governess Miss Taylor (Gemma Whelan) has married. Emma settles on the younger Harriet Smith (Mia Goth), whose parents are unknown, but she been provided education. Emma later discovers that Harriet has been proposed to by Robert Martin (Connor Swindells). Though claiming she will not interfere, Emma manipulates Harriet into declining Mr. Martin's offer of marriage, much to Harriet's distress. Emma believes that local vicar Mr. Elton (Josh O'Connor) is in love with Harriet and encourages Harriet to spend time with him, despite the warning of Mr. Knightley (Johnny Flynn) that she should not involve herself. During Christmas, Emma's older sister and Mr. Knightley's younger brother come to visit. After everyone leaves dinner, Emma finds herself alone in a carriage with Mr. Elton, who declares his love for her. Emma promptly refuses him, and Mr. Elton disappears for six weeks, eventually returning with a wife. Meanwhile, Emma is jealous of Jane Fairfax (Amber Anderson), the governess niece of Miss Bates (Miranda Hart), but is entranced by Frank Churchill (Callum Turner), son of Mr. Weston (Rupert Graves). The Westons hold a ball, where Mr. Elton embarrasses Harriet by pointedly refusing to dance with her. She is rescued by Mr. Knightley, who asks her to dance. Emma and Mr. Knightley also dance together, awakening romantic feelings between them. Before Mr. Knightley can speak to her, they are interrupted by Harriet who says that she has fallen in love again; Emma believes Harriet is in love with Frank. Emma again vows not to interfere but manipulates circumstances so that Harriet and Frank may spend more time together. Emma tries to spend more time with Mr. Knightley and is surprised when he repeatedly ignores her. On a picnic with their entire party of social acquaintances, Frank urges them to play a game to amuse Emma, who unthinkingly insults Miss Bates. After the party has disbanded, Mr. Knightley confronts Emma about her behaviour. Humiliated, Emma apologises to Miss Bates, who accepts her apology without question. Frank Churchill's wealthy aunt dies, but the Westons were waiting for her to die, as she was opposed to Frank matching with Jane Fairfax, it is revealed that they were secretly engaged. The Westons had hoped he would marry Emma, who feels guilty having to break the news to Harriet. But Harriet reveals that she is actually in love with Mr. Knightley. Harriet however realises that Emma herself is also in love with Mr. Knightley. Mr. Knightley goes to Emma to comfort her about the news and reveal that he is in love with her and hopes to marry her. Emma is pleased when he suggests marriage but develops a nosebleed when she realises how upset Harriet will be. Interfering one last time, she goes to Mr. Martin to make amends, and Harriet tells Emma she has accepted Mr. Martin's offer of marriage. Harriet also reveals, that as she is old enough, she has found out her father is not a gentleman, but a tradesman who makes galoshes. Emma congratulates Harriet and invites her and her father to her home. Though Emma and Mr. Knightley are very much in love, Emma is distressed at the thought of leaving her father Mr. Woodhouse (Bill Nighy) alone. To accommodate this, Mr. Knightley suggests that he join them. Emma happily agrees, and the two are married. Also starring Angus Imrie (Celia's son) as Bartholomew, Tanya Reynolds as Mrs. Elton, and Myra McFadyen as Mrs. Bates. Taylor-Joy is beautiful, intelligent, and witty with her impeccable British accent, colourful clothes and innocent meddling, Flynn is likeable as the critical but adoring man who is the obvious match for her, and there are terrific comic turns from British talents like Nighy and Hart as goofy eccentrics. I am not going to pretend I understood everything going on, because of its very literary dialogue and the mixing of relationships, but the Regency-era detail is spot on, the use of vibrant colour is splendid, and the makeup and costumes are magnificent, it does feel like a fresh take on the classic story, a most watchable period comedy-drama. It was nominated the Oscar for Best Makeup and Hairstyling, and Best Costume Design, and it was nominated the BAFTA for Best Costume Design. Good!

Babyteeth
(2019)

Babyteeth
I think I watched Mark Kermode review this Australian film for the BBC News, it sounded like it would be good, and the director Shannon Murphy (Killing Eve) was nominated at the BAFTAs, so I was looking forward to it. Basically, sixteen-year-old schoolgirl Milla Finlay (Little Women's Eliza Scanlen) has recently been diagnosed with cancer. One day, heading home from school, she meets twenty-three-year-old Moses (Toby Wallace), a small-time drug dealer, at a train station. They have a conversation, and he asks her for money to catch a train, but he changes his mind, and they spend time together. Milla quickly develops a crush on Moses and introduces him to her parents, musician Anna (Essie Davis) and psychiatrist Henry (Ben Mendelsohn). Milla's parents are uncomfortable with Moses, due to the age difference, and the signs that he is a drug user. But due to Milla's illness they are permissive. Some time later, Anna wakes up during the night and finds Moses trying to rob the family for prescription drugs. Milla and Henry wake up and are alerted to the situation, Henry wants to call the police, but Milla pleads for them not to. Anna notices how much happier Milla is with Moses but still disapproves. The following day, Anna warns Moses to stay away from her daughter. Moses continues to visit Milla at school. Milla tracks Moses down and they go to a party together one night. But Moses abandons her, and she becomes weakened. Her distraught parents find her and take her to the hospital. Aware that they are unable to stop the relationship between Milla and Moses, Henry and Anna come to accept it. Having lost her hair to chemotherapy, and wanting a change of look, Milla starts wearing wigs, including coloured ones, and finds a new sense of fashion. When Milla gets ill at home, Anna realises that Moses has taken her medication. Milla becomes angered, believing that Moses is using her for her father's access to drugs and throws him out. Later, Henry tracks Moses down and asks him to come live with the family, promising him access to drugs if he continues to make Milla happy. For a while, the family and Moses almost peacefully until Milla discovers her father is supplying Moses with drugs. She is angered again and asks Moses to leave. He eventually comes back and goes through withdrawal and recovery to stay sober. After Milla celebrates a happy seventeenth birthday party, she reveals to Moses that she is in constant pain and knows she does not have much longer. She begs Moses to kill her, using a pillow to suffocate her, they try but he cannot do it and Milla stops him during the process. Following this, they calm themselves and have sex for the first time. The following day, Anna and Henry realise that Milla had sex for the first time. When Anna goes to take Milla breakfast in bed, she instead discovers she has died during the night. In a flashback, Henry remembers a day with Milla at the beach. She tells him she is at peace with dying and asks him to take care of Moses when she is gone. Henry, in turn, promises that he and Anna will be okay when she dies. Also starring Michelle Lotters as Scarlett, Zach Grech as Isaac, and Georgina Symes as Polly. It should be mentioned that the meaning behind the title is because it opens with a baby tooth dropping in a glass of water, and the lead character later has a baby tooth fall out following a tense moment. Scanlen gives an authentic performance as the girl on the cusp of womanhood who cannot help her feelings for a wrong 'un, Wallace is alright as the boyfriend, and Davis and Mendelsohn are interesting as the parents. It is familiar story involving cancer and the turmoil it causes for a family, and the petty criminal boyfriend adds to the dysfunctional situation, it may be predictable in moments, but it is absorbing, a worthwhile comedy-drama. Good!

Absolute Proof
(2021)

Absolute Proof
When the results of the Razzies were announced, this was one of the only movies I had not seen among those selected. Technically it is more of a television special broadcast than an actual feature film, but I was determined to watch it and find out why it received the negativity it did. The full title of the film is Absolute Proof: Exposing Election Fraud and the Theft of America by Enemies Foreign and Domestic. Basically, Mike Lindell (aka the "My Pillow Guy", winner of Worst Actor) is an American businessman, and the founder and CEO of My Pillow, Inc. (a pillow manufacturing company based in Chaska, Minnesota). Lindell purchased three hours of airtime on One America News Network, which had been threatened with legal action, to broadcast this documentary. In a newsroom style studio, Lindell talks about the 2020 Donald Trump/Joe Biden Presidential Election and claims to have proof that a cyberattack from the Chinese 'flipped' the result. OANN broadcast a lengthy disclaimer before the program saying the claims were Lindell's alone, but that the 2020 election results "remain disputed and questioned by millions of Americans". In the programme, Lindell starts with showing the "Margin of Error" for thousands of election votes, which he describes as a "miracle". He displays of list of "fraudulent" votes accepted in the states of Arizona, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Georgia, and how many error votes there were under various categories. These (utterly ridiculous) categories included: "Illegal aliens voting", "Votes loaded before opening of polls", "Dead people who voted", "Voters who double voted", "Voters who were known to have also voted in other states", "Fake ballots driven from New York to Pennsylvania", "Between 80 to 100 self-proclaimed Black Lives Matter-affiliated members", "Ballots accepted up to three days after the election", "Poll workers sorted ballots with various errors into bins. Poll workers then re-filled out these ballots so that they could be read by tabulation machines, an action contrary to state law", "Felons with incomplete sentences registered to vote and cast their vote", "Underage children registered to vote and illegally voted", "Unregistered voters who voted", "Voters who voted in Georgia and also voted in another state", "Voters voted in Georgia but changed their address before the election", "People voted who failed to re-register to vote in their new county in time after moving from one county to another", "Voters who registered too late to vote in the election", and "People who died prior to the election". Lindell then speaks to Cybersecurity Expert Colonel Phi Waldron from a different studio who discusses the "system vulnerabilities", where machines could be hacked to change election outcomes, but this guy just goes on and on uninterrupted for over ten minutes. Next interviewed in another studio is Russ Ramsland, an expert of cyber forensics and security who specialises in election fraud, he says that he tried to get officials to investigate the results and that he is sure that the electronic voting system was compromised. Lindell is next joined in the studio by Dr. Shiva (Shiva Ayyadurai), expert on system science and pattern analysis, he has built large computer systems and shares the opinion that the machines used for polling could have been threatened and calls the computer algorithms a "crime scene". Lindell next talks in the studio to politician Patrick Colbeck, the former state senator in Michigan, who has become a poll challenger who believes that some machines were connected to internet, which they should not be, and this would allow attackers to 'flip' the election result. Next in the studio with Lindell is Melissa Carone, an IT contractor for Dominion Voting Systems on election day, who says she never saw a single vote for Trump and claims machines got jammed and could count votes more than once. Attorney Matt DePerno is next in the studio discussing his part of a lawsuit filed against the election result and voting equipment, he claims that recounts were made as adjudication files were deleted from the systems and shows how machines could be connected to the internet. Next there is an office interview from Eric Coomer, director of product strategy and security, at Dominion Voting Systems, who answers questions about the machines and networks they use. It goes back to Lindell and DePerno in the studio repeating that this is the "biggest crime in American history". Lindell then gets to "the moment you've all been waiting for", where the voice of Mary Fanning, national intelligence researcher and author, on the phone reveals how the cyberattack happened, (breaking through the firewall) and a chart is shown listing "foreign intrusion/interference" with identified hackers. The list sees the hacker ID addresses, their targets (states and computers), their methods, their fake credentials and whether they were successful in changing votes, and Fanning says there are thousands of these pages. There is also a video (a Google maps style chart) showing the surveillance system in cyber security, it is a series of coloured moving lines, these are the IP addresses of identified hackers, and the colour specifies how severe the hacks are. The next online video interview is from General Thomas G. McInerney, retired air force and military professional, who gives his perspective on the "domestic enemy" threatening the constitution of the United States, and Lindell assures him that there be a revival for the country. Lindell talks via video message to Terry Turchie, former FBI official and political operative, who answers the question of where the FBI were during the "penetration" of the country and that a major investigation would be launched about the "stolen" election. Finally, Lindell delivers a hopeful message for those watching that America will be returned to "one nation under God", and a series of images of a glorious America are shown, and the ending message "Please share this with everyone you know". YouTube removed this documentary shortly after the broadcast for violating its policy against election disinformation. In all my life, I have never seen such a stupid factual show with no facts whatsoever! Lindell must be a Trump supporter, and this programme was obviously made with those supporters in mind. It is just a series of images of lists, charts, maps and diagrams with no substantial evidence, and interviews with experts and political figures (more like conspiracy theorists) who often repeat themselves and equally have no substantial proof about what they are talking about. As for Lindell himself, he tries to come across as authentic, he is desperate for viewers to believe the lies that he and the programme are trying to present, no wonder he has got in trouble and lost business. You would have no problem falling asleep during this film, it is all chat with no point that pricks up your ears and attracts your interest, I doubt (or rather hope) even many proper sceptics will get anything out of the nonsense presented. It is programmes like this that give America a bad name and make you question their intelligence and quality of programming. Easily one of the most boring, untruthful, and unwatchable things I've ever seen, a rubbish documentary. It won the Razzie for Worst Picture. Very poor!

The Phantom of the Opera at the Royal Albert Hall
(2011)

The Phantom of the Opera at the Royal Albert Hall
In 1986, Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Phantom of the Opera arrived on the West End stage at Her Majesty's Theatre and has since gained global success and millions of fans, with television and movie adaptation, and even a stage sequel (Love Never Dies). To celebrate the 25th anniversary of this great show, based on the French novel by Gaston Leroux, this special concert performance was filmed at the Royal Albert Hall. Basically, the story is set in 1881, in Paris, rehearsals are taking place at the Paris Opera House for the latest show. Resident soprano prima donna Carlotta Guidicelli (Wendy Ferguson) is concerned however as a dark figure known as the Phantom is lurking the opera house, causing incidents that have killed or injured people for the last three years, and she storms out. The managers, rather than cancelling a sold-out show, audition a chorus girl and orphaned daughter of prominent Swedish violinist Gustave Daae to take over the lead role. The chorus girl, Christine (Sierra Boggess) is surprisingly talented and sings the aria during the evening performance. She is recognised by her childhood friend, new patron Raoul, the Vicomte de Chagny (Hadley Fraser). Backstage after her triumphant debut, Christine confesses to her friend Meg Giry (Daisy Maywood) that her singing has been inspired by an unseen tutor she knows only as the "Angel of Music". She tells Raoul that the Angel has visited her and taught her to sing, he assumes these are fantasies. When Raoul leaves momentarily, Christine hears the voice of the jealous Phantom (Ramin Karimloo) who reveals himself. The Phantom has a partially masked face, believing him to be the Angel of Music sent by her deceased father, she follows him as he leads her down into the shadowy sewers below the opera house. The two board a small boat and cross a subterranean lake to his secret lair. The Phantom says he has chosen Christine to sing his musical compositions, and she faints from shock. When she wakes, as the Phantom is composing music at his organ, Christine is overcome with curiosity and removes his mask, and beholds his grotesquely disfigured face. The Phantom is furious, and Christine runs in fear. He slowly calms and expresses his longing to be loved, and a moved Christine returns the mask to the Phantom, and he takes her back above ground. Meanwhile, chief stagehand Joseph Buquet (Nick Holder) is warned by Madame Giry (Liz Robertson) to restrain himself with his stories of the "Opera ghost" or face the Phantom's wrath. The new managers André (Gareth Snook) and Firman (Barry James) read notes from the Phantom, and Carlotta and Piangi (GoCompare's Wynne Evans) burst in having received notes themselves. The Phantom is demanding that Christine replace Carlotta as the Countess in the new opera, and that Box Five is kept empty for him. He warns that they will face a "disaster beyond imagination" if these demands are not met. The première of opera Il Muto starts well, but Box Five is not empty as instructed, and Christine has been reduced to a silent role. The Phantom enchants Carlotta's voice, reducing it to a frog-like croak. Firmin rushes on to announce to the audience that Christine will take over the starring role, and the ballet is brought forward to keep the audience entertained. Suddenly, the hanged corpse of Joseph Buquet drops from the rafters. Firmin and André plead for calm as mayhem erupts and the Phantom's sinister laugh is heard throughout the auditorium. Christine escapes with Raoul to the roof and tells him about her subterranean encounter with the Phantom. Raoul is sceptical but promises to love and protect her, and she reciprocates her love for him. The Phantom has overheard their conversation, he is heartbroken and swears revenge. He returns to the auditorium and crashes the chandelier onto the stage during the curtain call. Months later, the Opera house hosts a masquerade ball. The Phantom has not been seen since the chandelier disaster but reappears in costume as the Red Death. He announces that he has written an opera entitled Don Juan Triumphant during his absence and demands that it be produced with Christine in the lead role, and he warns of dire consequences if his demands are not met. But the Phantom realises that Christine is engaged to Raoul, he angrily takes her engagement ring and vanishes in a flash of light. Raoul confronts Madame Giry and demands that she reveal what she knows about the Phantom. Madame Giry reluctantly explains that the Phantom is a brilliant scholar, magician, architect, inventor, and composer who was born with a terrifyingly deformed face and was ostracised for it. Feared and reviled by society, he was cruelly exhibited in a cage as part of a travelling fair until he eventually escaped and disappeared beneath the opera house. The managers see no choice but to produce the Phantom's opera. Before rehearsals begin, Raoul plots to use the première of Don Juan Triumphant to trap the Phantom and end his reign of terror. Carlotta falsely accuses Christine of being the mastermind, wanting to be the star. Christine angrily defends herself, explaining that she is his victim just like everyone else. Raoul, knowing of the Phantom's obsession with Christine, begs he to help lure the Phantom into the trap, but she refuses. During rehearsal, Piangi is unable to sing his part in the new opera, causing frustration and chaos for everyone. The piano is possessed and suddenly begins to play, and the entire company immediately sings in unison. Christine is torn between her love for Raoul and her awe of the Phantom. The Phantom appears to her again and she succumbs to his influence, but Raoul arrives to rescue her. The Phantom taunts Raoul, hurling fire balls at him until Christine begs Raoul to leave with her. Furious, the Phantom declares war upon them both and causes flames to spring up around them. With armed policemen in the auditorium watching out for the Phantom, Don Juan Triumphant premieres with Christine and Piangi singing the respective lead roles of Don Juan and Aminta. During their duet, Christine realises that the Phantom has somehow replaced Piangi The Phantom once again expresses his love for Christine and forces a ring onto her finger. Christine rips off his mask, showing his horrifically deformed face to the shocked audience. Exposed, the Phantom hurriedly drags Christine off the stage and back to his lair. Piangi's dead body is revealed backstage, and the opera house plunges into chaos. An angry mob seeking vengeance for the deaths search for the Phantom. Madame Giry tells Raoul how to find the Phantom's subterranean lair. In the lair, Christine is wearing a wedding dress. She tells the Phantom that she does not fear his physical appearance, but rather his inner nature. Raoul arrives and tries to persuade the Phantom to spare Christine and begs him for compassion. The Phantom ensnares Raoul in the Punjab lasso. The Phantom offers Christine an ultimatum: if she stays with him, he will spare Raoul, but if she refuses, Raoul will die. As the Phantom and Raoul both vie for Christine, she sadly asks the Phantom what life he has been forced to live. Finally, she tells the Phantom that he is not alone and kisses him, showing him compassion for the first time in his life. Having experienced kindness at last, the Phantom realises that he cannot force Christine to love him and frees Raoul. The Phantom makes them swear to never tell and allows them to leave before breaking down in tears. Raoul hurries Christine out of the lair, but she returns alone to give the Phantom back his ring. The Phantom finally tells Christine he loves her, and she tearfully leaves to rejoin Raoul. As the angry search mob closes in, the Phantom sits on his throne and covers himself with his cloak. Meg is first to reach the lair and approaches the throne, pulling away the Phantom's cloak the throne is empty, with only the Phantom's mask remaining. She lifts it up into the light and gazes at it in wonder as the scene fades to darkness. Following the end of the show, the cast of the original 1986 production come onstage: Michael Crawford, Sarah Brightman, with former Phantom stars Colm Wilkinson, Anthony Warlow, Peter Jöback, and John Owen-Jones, and there are speeches from Lord Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber and Sir Cameron Mackintosh. Many of the songs are absolute belters, especially "Think of Me", "Angel of Music", "The Phantom of the Opera", "The Music of the Night", "All I Ask of You", and "The Point of No Return", and the performances and singing voices of Boggess and Karimloo are amazing. It is an interesting story, the costume design, choreography and staging are terrific, you almost forget the length of the show, and the finale featuring performances from the original stars, especially Brightman, is fantastic. This is a wonderful celebration of a splendid stage show and makes me consider seeing it live in a theatre, a magnificent musical drama show. Very good!

Leprechaun Returns
(2018)

Leprechaun Returns
The six movies with Warwick Davis are all terrible but little giggles make them almost watchable (apart from In Space and In Da Hood), while the prequel Origins tried, and failed, to reboot the franchise. It was decided to make an eighth entry (straight-to-DVD of course), a direct sequel to the original movie, but it was obvious it was going to be rubbish, and not just because the original star was replaced. Basically, twenty-five years ago, a young woman and her friends stopped an evil Leprechaun by catapulting a four-leaf clover into its mouth until it melted and fell into a well in Devil's Lake, North Dakota. In the present day, the old house where these events took place is being renovated into a sorority house. Lila Jenkins (Taylor Spreitler) is one of the students at Laramore University helping to turn the house into a perfect "green" living abode during the summer vacation. Lila hitches a ride from dim-witted Ozzie Jones (Mark Holton), who says she looks familiar, and then he realises she is the daughter of her former friend, Tori Reading. Lila tells Ozzie that her mother died of cancer some time ago, and he asks her if she ever told her anything about the events at the house, to which she denies. Ozzie leaves Lila and goes to retrieve her luggage, when he is sprayed with water from the well that the Leprechaun fell into. The DNA of the Irish monster remains in the water, and his evil magic enables him to grow into Ozzie's body, until he bursts from his chest, and the Leprechaun (Linden Porco) is reborn. Lila meets her sorority sisters consisting of self-appointed leader Rose (Sai Bennett), eco-friendly and intelligent Katie (Pepi Sonuga), and stoner Meredith (Emily Reid) who brings over a group of young men consisting of dim-witted student Andy (Ben McGregor), and self-proclaimed wannabe filmmaker Matt (Oliver Llewellyn Jenkins). After Meredith insults Lila's mother for her fear of monsters, Lila goes to bed and encounters visions of Zombie Ozzie. The next morning, Katie and Andy install a solar panel, while the Leprechaun learns that his powers are weak. The monster needs his precious pot of gold for his powers to returns and determines that killing will solve his problems. That night, the Leprechaun reveals himself to Lila and Meredith, who take pictures of the creature on their phones, which serves as proof for unbelieving Matt and Rose. Andy also encounters the Leprechaun, he mocks the monster for his height, and gets sliced in half when the solar panel falls on him. Meredith and Lila sneak into the house to get the car keys, but Meredith locks Lila in the basement and reveals she made a deal with the Leprechaun to have Lila hoping to allow her to live. Meredith claims that Lila was killed, and the others leave, but they realise Meredith's true intentions. Meanwhile, Lila encounters Ghost Ozzie, who helps Lila learn of the Leprechaun's true weakness and how to get out of the basement. When the Leprechaun catches up to the group flying on Matt's drone, they crash into a tree and run away, leaving Meredith behind. The Leprechaun slows Meredith down using sprinklers and kills her by impaling her mouth with sprinkler tap. Matt attempts to slow down the Leprechaun with his drone, but the creature takes its control and decapitates Matt with the drone blades. Rose and Katie run into Lila, who found a treasure map in the basement with the help of Ghost Ozzie that leads to the Leprechaun's gold. The three discover a pick-up truck that contains the gold, but Rose reveals that she cashed in some of the gold to help finance the greenify project. To deceive the Leprechaun, Lila stuffs the pot with tampons and offers the gold back to the Leprechaun, but he realises their true deception. Knowing the Leprechaun's weakness is iron, Lila manages to trap the creature in a circle of iron objects. Katie restores the power to the house while Rose creates clover juice. Lila stuffs a hose in the Leprechaun's mouth and fills him with the juice until he explodes, seemingly killing him. Rose offers to clean the house, but the Leprechaun is still alive, and from his body pieces all over the place becomes multiple small leprechauns. Rose defeats most of the mini creatures, but they outsmart her and impale her on a trophy. The Leprechaun returns to size before Lila and Katie discover Rose's body. When she gets the opportunity, Lila surrounds the Leprechaun's feet with gold. Using power cables, she electrocutes the Leprechaun before blowing up the house. Lila and Katie become covered in green slime after the creature explodes. While Lila and Katie are able to leave, some time later the Leprechaun is revealed to still be alive, and hitches a ride to Bismarck, where the rest of his gold was sold. Also starring Heather McDonald as the voice of Tori Reading, a spot-on imitation of original star Jennifer Aniston. Porco does replicate the traits the original Leprechaun had, including talking in rhymes, making puns, and cleaning shoes, but he is nowhere near as cheeky and likeable as Davis was, and the return of original star Holton doesn't really add anything to what is already a mess. It follows the same format as the other films, the monster kills for his gold, the kills are over-the-top, and there are attempts to make you laugh, the jokes fall flat, the acting is lame, the script is predictable, and the makeup is not great, it is just another waste of time, a pointless horror comedy. Poor!

Rebecca
(2020)

Rebecca
Most people would recall the original black-and-white Alfred Hitchcock classic, based on the book by Daphne Du Maurier, well this new adaptation brings the action into colour, directed Ben Wheatley (Kill List, Sightseers, Free Fire). Basically, whilst in Monte Carlo, working for Mrs. Van Hopper (The Handmaid's Tale's Ann Dowd), an inexperienced young woman (Lily James) meets aristocratic widower George Fortescue Maximilian "Maxim" de Winter (Armie Hammer). The two spend a good deal of time together, leading to love and marriage. Maxim takes his new bride back to Manderley, his grand mansion by the sea in south-western England. She meets the housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers (Kristin Scott Thomas), a domineering and cold woman obsessed with the memory of the first Mrs. De Winter, the eponymous Rebecca. Mrs. Danvers has preserved Rebecca's former grand bedroom and continues to display various items that carry her monogram (the letter "R"). The spiritual presence of Rebecca causes Mrs. De Winter to believe that Maxim is still in love with his first wife. Jack Favell (Sam Riley), Rebecca's cousin comes to visit, which angers Maxim. It is only later, talking to Maxim's sister Beatrice Lacy (Keeley Hawes), that Mrs. De Winter discovers what happened to Rebecca; she died out at sea after her vessel capsized, and her body was washed ashore sometime later. Wanting to please her husband, Mrs. De Winter suggests holding a costume ball as he and Rebecca used to. Mrs. De Winter's personal maid Clarice (Bryony Miller) suggests a dress worn by a young woman in one of the portraits displayed on the staircase, implied to be one of Maxim's ancestors. But, when Mrs. De Winter comes down the staircase wearing the costume, the guests are shocked, and Maxim is furious as Rebecca wore an identical dress at her last ball. Realiaing that Mrs. Danvers had manipulated Clarice, and believing that Maxim now regrets their marriage, Mrs. De Winter has a small breakdown. Mrs. Danvers reveals her contempt for the new Mrs. De Winter, believing she is trying to replace Rebecca. She tries to convince a helpless and disturbed Mrs. De Winter to jump to her death from the window. At that moment, however, the alarm is raised because a boat has been discovered, brought ashore by a storm. The boat is Rebecca's, and her body has been identified aboard. The investigation of Rebecca's death is reopened, and Maxim is suspected of murder. Maxim confesses to his new wife that he misidentified another body as Rebecca's in order to conceal the truth. He hated Rebecca, who was cruel, selfish, adulterous, and manipulative and the marriage had been a sham from the start. She pretended to be the perfect wife and hostess for the sake of appearances. On the night of her death, Rebecca told Maxim that she was pregnant with another man's child. She placed his gun to her chest and stated that the only way to be free of her was to kill her. Enraged, Maxim pulled the trigger, then disposed of her body, placing it in her boat and sinking it. Despite his confession, Mrs. De Winter is relieved to know that Maxim loves her and resolves to support him during the investigation. Favell attempts to blackmail Maxim, claiming to have a written note from Rebecca as proof that she did not commit suicide. The trial shows Rebecca's boat to have been deliberately sunk. In the court, Mrs. Danvers implies that a visit by Rebecca to a doctor was linked to her pregnancy, and Maxim's check written to Favell for the note is shown. Maxim is placed under arrest for murder. Mrs. De Winter fires Danvers and locates Rebecca's doctor, Dr. Baker (Bill Paterson). Reading her file reveals that Rebecca could not have been pregnant because she had advanced and incurable cancer and she would have died within a few months. An investigator concludes Rebecca committed suicide by scuttling her boat, while Mrs. De Winter privately concludes that Rebecca wanted Maxim to kill her. Absolved, Maxim and Mrs. De Winter drive home. Returning to Madeley, they are shocked to see the mansion on fire. A maid reveals that Mrs. Danvers started the fire and fled. Mrs. De Winter races to the cliffs and finds Mrs. Danvers standing at the edge. She pleads with Mrs. Danvers not to jump, but Mrs. Danvers curses her and Maxim to never know happiness and jumps into the sea and drowns. Years later, Mrs. De Winter is with Maxim, as they search for their dream home. Also starring Tom Goodman-Hill as Frank Crawley, Ben Crompton as Ben, Jane Lapotaire as Granny, and Mark Lewis Jones as Inspector Welch. James is good as the quivering wife, Hammer is a little blank as the husband, but at least Scott Thomas is as always reliable as the sinister housemaid. Like the original, it is a film of two halves, the first about the new wife trying and failing to fit in, and the second the truth about the first wife's death being exposed, it really makes the most of the use of colour, from the emaculate costumes and lavish locations, and it has terrific camerawork and a splendid score by Clint Mansell. It does not have quite have the same eerie atmosphere and psychological element as the original, but it an interesting enough romantic thriller. It was nominated the BAFTA for Best Production Design. Worth watching!

Miss Saigon: 25th Anniversary
(2016)

Miss Saigon: 25th Anniversary
I had always heard the title of this popular musical stage show, based on the 1904 opera Madame Butterfly by Giacomo Puccini. I had no idea what the story was about and whether or not I knew any of the songs from the show, but I was really up for giving it a go. Basically, the story starts in 1975, at "Dreamland," a Saigon bar and brothel, shortly before the end of the Vietnam War. Seventeen-year-old peasant girl Kim (Eva Noblezada) is a new bargirl with no experience. The U. S. Marines, aware that they will soon be leaving Vietnam, party with the Vietnamese sex workers. Chris Scott (Alistair Brammer), a sergeant, has no interest in getting with a girl, despite encouragement from his friend John Thomas (Hugh Maynard). The girls compete for the title of "Miss Saigon", with Gigi Van Tranh (Rachelle Ann Go) winning the crown. But many of the showgirls dream of a better life. Scott is transfixed by Kim, who is reluctant and shy. John buys a room for Chris and her from the Engineer (Jon Jon Briones), a French-Vietnamese hustler and the owner of the club. Chris tries to pay her to leave the nightclub. The Engineer interferes, thinking he is not interested in Kim, so Chris allows himself to be led to her room. Chris, watching Kim sleep, asks God why he met her just as he was about to leave Vietnam. When Kim wakes up, Chris is sympathetic towards Kim, who tells him she is an orphan and that she was a virgin before sleeping with him. Chris offers to take her to America with him and the two of them fall in love. Chris tells John that he is taking leave to be with Kim. John warns him that the Viet Cong will soon take Saigon, but he reluctantly agrees to cover for Chris. Chris meets with the Engineer to trade for Kim, eventually resorting to threatening him at gunpoint to get his way. The bargirls hold a "wedding ceremony" for Chris and Kim, with Gigi toasting Kim as the "real" Miss Saigon. Thuy (Kwang-Ho Hong), Kim's cousin, whom she was betrothed to marry, is an officer in the North Vietnamese Army. He arrives and is disgusted she is with a white man. The two men confront each other, drawing their guns. Kim tells Thuy that their arranged marriage is now nullified because her parents are dead, and she no longer has feelings for him. Thuy curses them all and storms out. Chris promises to take Kim with him when he leaves Vietnam. Three years later, in 1978, a parade is taking place celebrating the reunification of Vietnam and the defeat of the Americans. Thuy, now a commissar in the new Communist government, orders his soldiers to search for the Engineer, in order to find and bring back Kim. Kim and Chris have become separated in the three years. Kim has been hiding in an impoverished area, still in love with Chris, believing he will return to Vietnam and rescue her. Meanwhile, Chris is married to an American wife, Ellen (Tamsin Carroll). Ellen and Kim both swear their devotion to Chris from opposite ends of the world. A week later, Thuy's soldiers find the Engineer, who has been working in the rice fields as part of a re-education program. The Engineer takes Thuy to where Kim has been hiding. Kim refuses Thuy's renewed offer of marriage. Furious, Thuy calls his soldiers in and they begin tying up Kim and the Engineer, threatening to put them into a re-education camp. Kim introduces him to Tam (William Dao), her three-year-old son from Chris. Thuy calls Kim a traitor and Tam an enemy, and tries to kill Tam with a knife, but Kim shoots Thuy dead. She flees with Tam and tells the Engineer what she has done. But he refuses to help her until he learns that Tam's father is American; he sees the boy as his chance to emigrate to the United States. The three set out on a ship with other refugees to Bangkok. In Atlanta, Georgia, John now works for an aid organisation. John tells Chris that Kim is still alive, which Chris is relieved to hear after all this time. He also tells Chris about Tam and urges Chris to go to Bangkok with Ellen, who he finally tells about Kim and his son. Chris, Ellen, and John arrive in search of Kim at a sleazy club, where the Engineer is also around. John finds Kim dancing at the club and tells her that Chris is also in Bangkok. He then tries to tell her that Chris is remarried, but Kim interrupts. Kim tells Tam about his father, as she believes he is to go to American with him. Seeing Kim happy, John cannot bring himself to break the news to her but promises to bring Chris to her. The Engineer tells Kim to find Chris herself, because he doubts that Chris will come. Kim is haunted by the ghost of Thuy, who taunts Kim. She has a flashback to 1975, when the Viet Cong were approaching Saigon, and the city is thrown into increasing chaos. Orders are received from Washington for an immediate evacuation of the remaining Americans. Chris calls to Kim and is about to go into the crowd to look for her. John was forced to punch Chris in the face to stop him from leaving. Chris is put into the last helicopter leaving Saigon. Back in 1978 Bangkok, Kim joyfully dresses in her wedding clothes and leaves the Engineer to watch Tam while she is gone. She goes to Chris's hotel room, where she finds Ellen, who reveals he is Chris's wife. Kim is heartbroken and refuses to believe her. Ellen asks Kim if Chris is the father of Tam, and Kim confirms that he is. Kim does not want her son to continue leaving on the streets and pleads for Ellen and Chris to take her son to live with them in America. But Ellen refuses, saying that Tam needs his real mother, and that she wants her own children with Chris. Kim angrily demands that Chris tell her these things in person and leaves. Ellen feels bad for Kim but is determined to keep Chris. Chris and John return, and Ellen tells them both that Kim arrived and that she had to tell Kim everything. Chris and John blame themselves, and Ellen also tells them that Kim tried to give away her son to them. Ellen issues an ultimatum to Chris: Kim or her. Chris reassures Ellen, and they pledge their love for each other. Chris and Ellen agree to leave Tam and Kim in Bangkok but offer them support payments from America. Back at the club, Kim lies to the Engineer that they are still going to America. The Engineer imagines the extravagant new life that he will lead in America. Chris, John, and Ellen find the Engineer and he takes them to see Kim and Tam. In her room, Kim tells Tam that he should be happy because he now has a father. She tells him that she cannot go with him but will be watching over him. Chris, Ellen, John, and the Engineer arrive. The Engineer comes in to take Tam outside to introduce Tam to his father. While this is happening, Kim is behind a curtain and shoots herself. As she falls to the floor, Chris rushes into the room at the sound of the gunshot and finds Kim mortally wounded. He picks up Kim and asks what she has done. She asks him to hold her once more and dies in his arms as he cries her name. Following the end of the show, the cast of the original 1989 production come onstage: Jonathan Pryce, Lea Salonga, Simon Bowman, and Mariano Venida, and there are speeches from the original producers and creators of the show. Most of the songs are belters, especially "The Heat Is on in Saigon", "Sun and Moon", "Why God Why", " I Still Believe", "Now That I've Seen Her", "What a Waste" and "The American Dream", and the performances and singing voices of Noblezada, Brammer, Maynard and Briones are terrific. It is an emotional story, the colour and costume design are marvellous, you almost forget the length of the show, and the finale featuring performances from the original stars, especially Pryce, is a highlight. This is a wonderful celebration of a splendid stage show and made me consider seeing it live in a theatre, a marvellous musical drama show. Very good!

Les Misérables in Concert: The 25th Anniversary
(2010)

Les Misérables in Concert: The 25th Anniversary
In 2010, the famous stage musical, based on the novel by Victor Hugo, celebrated its 25th anniversary of production, and this concert performed and filmed at The O2 Arena in North Greenwich, London, England was part of the celebrations. Basically, the story is set in 1815, where convict Jean Valjean (Alfie Boe) has served nineteen years in prison and is released on parole by prison guard Javert (Norm Lewis), Bishop of Digne (Earl Carpenter) offers him food and shelter, but he leaves during the night with stolen silverware. The authorities catch him, but the forgiving Bishop says the silverware was a gift, touched by the love, grace and generosity he begins an honest life under a new identity, Javert swears to bring him to justice for breaking parole. Eight years pass, Valjean is mayor of Montreuil-sur-Mer and owner of a factory, and there works poor Fantine (Lea Salonga). Being dismissed by the foreman (Jeff Nicholson), Fantine is forced into prostitution to make the money she needs for her illegitimate young daughter Cosette. Arguing with a customer, she is arrested by Javert, now a police Inspector, but is rescued by Valjean. While she is in hospital he finds out that a man thought to be him has been arrested, he confesses his true identity to the court before a sentence is made. Fantine close to death is promised by him that he will take care of her daughter. After duelling with Javert, who recognises him, he finds Cosette living with deceitful and uncaring Thénardier (Matt Lucas) and Madame Thénardier (Jenny Galloway). He pays them to take her and be a father to her. Nine years pass, the only sympathetic government official toward the poor Jean Maximilien Lamarque is dying, and students Marius Pontmercy (Nick Jonas) and Enjolras (Ramin Karimloo) are trying to bring together other students to stand against the constabulary. Cosette (Katie Hall) is now a young woman and catching a glimpse of her Marius has fallen instantly in love. She meanwhile is not getting answers from Valjean about Fantine or his past. After the death of Lamarque, Enjolras has organised a group of idealistic students, while Marius's friend Éponine (Samantha Barks) leads him to Cosette so that they can declare their love. But Éponine has a secret love for him that cannot be returned, so she joins the revolution. Mistaking a robbery in their house for Javert discovering them, Valjean tells his daughter they must flee, and the Parisians have rallied with Enjolras to revolt. Cosette writes a farewell letter to Marius. The following day, the funeral procession for Lamarque is interrupted by the assaulting students, to spy on them Javert is posing as a rebel. But Gavroche exposes him, and he is captured. In the gun battle, Marius is saved by Éponine sacrificing herself, before death she confesses her love, he is devastated. Valjean reading the farewell letter by Cosette realises her feelings for Marius and goes to find and protect him at the barricade. He is allowed to see and execute Javert after saving Enjolras's life. But he chooses to free his former prison guard and fires a fake shot. Javert wonders at his generosity. The students expected the Paris townspeople to join the revolution, the fight to the death is down to them, while Marius is saved by Valjean who drags his unconscious body through the sewers. Everyone else is killed, and at the moment of exiting the sewer he is confronted by Javert who threatens to shoot him unless he surrenders, but he continues to save the young man. Conflicting with his thoughts, Javert kills himself. Marius is recovering and mourning for the death of his friends, but Cosette is there to comfort him. In private, Valjean reveals his past to him and says that his presence puts his daughter in danger so he must leave, Marius makes a promise to never tell her these truths. Marius and Cosette get married, and after an encounter with Thénardier, Marius realises Cosette's father was the one who saved his life, and he and his new wife rush to find his location. They find Valjean dying in the local convent, where the spirit of Fantine is there for him to see and take him to Heaven. The couple find him in his last moments, and he hands Cosette his confession letter. When he dies Fantine and the Bishop take him to paradise alongside Enjolras, Éponine, Gavroche and other rebels at the barricade. Following the end of the show, the cast of the original 1985 production come onstage: Roger Allam, Alun Armstrong, Ashley Artus, Michael Ball, Rebecca Caine, and there are speeches from Sir Cameron Mackintosh, Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg. Also starring Hadley Fraser as Grantaire, and The X Factor's Lucie Jones as Turning Woman 2 / Queen's Theatre Company. The songs are absolute belters, especially "I Dreamed a Dream", "One Day More", "Who Am I" and "Bring Him Home", and the performances and singing voices of Boe, Lucas, Lewis and Jonas are brilliant. It is an emotional story, the colour and costume design are marvellous, you almost forget the length of the show, and the finale featuring performances from the original stars is a highlight. This is truly a great celebration of a splendid stage show, and made me most interested to see it live in a theatre, a magnificent musical drama show. Very good!

El Agente Topo
(2020)

The Mole Agent
It is only because of Awards Season nominations that I found out about this Chilean documentary film, I read more about it and it did sound interesting. Basically, a newspaper article is placed to find an elderly person, aged between 80-90, with some understanding and experience of using technology. One by one, the applicants are interviewed about their use of technology and other factors, as one of them is to be recruited by a private investigator in Chile. The investigator selects octogenarian Sergio Chamy to work as a mole at a retirement home. He is taught how to use spy cameras and a smartphone to report any significant findings to the investigator. His mission is to go undercover in the nursing home to investigate suspicions, from a client, of caretakers abusing the residents. Chamy settles into the home, and the camera crew are allowed in, under the pretence that they are documenting the experiences for Chamy and other residents. Chamy talks and gets to know many of the residents, especially the women, who fall in love with his charm. He reports everything he sees and hears to the private investigator, which for some time is just menial details. He eventually finds the female resident who has been specifically targeted for questioning and uses his hidden camera technology to document anything suspicious. In the end, after his stay at the home, no evidence of mistreatment or abuse is found. But this film serves much more as an insight into the desperate loneliness and seclusion the older generation have succumbed to, with many abandoned by their families. It is sobering and poignant, the spy gadgetry is kind of cool, and Chamy is a likeable character. I was hoping for perhaps something more gripping and some kind of big twist or turn by the conclusion, but it is an interesting enough documentary. It was nominated the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature. Worth watching!

Freaky
(2020)

Freaky
I saw the trailer for this scary movie in the cinema, from the format and title, I could tell it was Freaky Friday with a twist, in fact, it was originally to be titled Freaky Friday the 13th. The cinemas closed due to lockdown before it could be released, so thank goodness it went online instead, from Blumhouse Productions (Insidious, Sinister, Get Out), directed by Christopher Landon (Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones, Happy Death Day). Basically, four teenagers are brutally murdered by a serial killer known as the Blissfield Butcher (Vince Vaughn). Before leaving, the killer steals an ancient dagger known as La Dola. The next day, bullied high school student Millie Kessler (Kathryn Newton) attends the Blissfield Valley High School homecoming football game, where she performs as the school mascot. As Millie waits for a ride home, the Butcher attacks her. As the moon is full, the killer stabs Millie in the shoulder with La Dola, causing an identical wound to instantly appear on his shoulder. Millie's older sister Charlene (Dana Drori), a police officer, arrives and scares off the Butcher. The police collect the dagger as evidence and a manhunt is initiated to catch the Butcher. Following the stroke of midnight, supernatural forces cause the Butcher and Millie to switch bodies. The following morning, on Friday the 13th, the Butcher in Millie's body wakes in her bedroom. The killer acts strangely towards Millie's mother Coral (Katie Finneran) and Charlene and cannot resist the temptation to try and kill them. Meanwhile, Millie wakes in the Butcher's body, in a dilapidated building and flees in distress. The Butcher, posing as Millie, finds a new wardrobe and heads to the high school, remaining quiet and continuing to act coldly to the students. Millie meanwhile makes her way to the high school to find her friends. The Butcher kills Millie's chief tormentor Ryler (Melissa Collazo) by freezing her to death in a cryotherapy tank in the girl's locker room. The Butcher realises Millie's innocent appearance grants him immunity to get away with murder. He next kills wood shop teacher Mr. Bernardi (Alan Ruck), another one of Millie's tormentors, slicing him in half with a table saw. Millie finds her best friends, black Nyla Chones (Celeste O'Connor) and gay Joshua "Josh" Detmer (Misha Osherovich); they immediately attack her, thinking she is the killer. Eventually, through performing the school mascot dance routine, answering personal questions, and their trademark handshake, Millie proves her identity. Nyla and Josh research La Dola, and with the help of a Spanish teacher to translate an online article they discover the dagger's power to switch bodies. But the article also details that if the killer is not stabbed again with the dagger before midnight, their body switch will become permanent. Later that afternoon, the Butcher lures Millie's crush Booker Strode (Uriah Shelton) into a monster themed mini golf course to kill him, but Millie, Nyla, and Josh arrive just in time to save him. Millie knocks both the Butcher and Booker unconscious, and she and her friends bring them both to Josh's house. After tying the Butcher to a chair, Millie and Nyla try to explain the situation to Booker, who remains unconvinced. But Millie recites a love poem she anonymously wrote to him weeks earlier, convincing him of her identity. Josh watches over the Butcher while Millie, Nyla, and Booker drive to the police station to get La Dola being held in evidence. Nyla tricks Charlene, the only officer in the station, into leaving so she can steal the dagger. Waiting outside in the car, Booker reveals that he has always liked Millie, and Millie says she has enjoyed the newfound strength and confidence she feels whilst in the Butcher's body, and they briefly kiss. Josh's mother (Brooke Jaye Taylor) mistakes the Butcher for Millie and frees him, and the killer escapes. While Charlene catches Nyla trying to steal La Dola, Millie sees the Butcher enter the police station and runs in after him, but Charlene tries to detain her, unaware of the situation. Millie overpowers her sister and locks her in a jail cell while the Butcher escapes in a police car. At the Blissfield Valley High Homecoming dance, three football players attempt to rape the Butcher, thinking he is Millie, while another football player reveals himself as gay trying to kiss Josh. The Butcher murders the four footballer players. As midnight approaches, Millie finds the Butcher and they engage in a fight. Eventually, the killer is held down by Nyla and Josh while Booker stops the police from interfering. For a moment, it looks like they are too late as Booker's watch sounds, but Millie realises that he mentioned having it set five minutes earlier to avoid being late for classes. Millie stabs the Butcher with La Dola and they switch back to their own bodies just as the police shoot down the Butcher. Later, Millie and Booker reunite, and they kiss again. But the Butcher has faked his death, waking in the ambulance, and returns to Millie's home. Millie, Charlene, and their mother struggle to overpower the Butcher, and the killer mocks Millie's physical weakness and anxiety. But Millie finally kills the Butcher by impaling him with a broken table leg. Also starring Ezra Sexton as Brett, Emily Holder as Sandra, Nicholas Stargel as Isaac, Kelly Lamor Wilson as Ginny, and Mitchell Hoog as Evan. Vaughn makes up for his mistake of playing Norman Bates in the atrocious remake of Psycho and makes a convincing psycho killer, and is hilarious being girly following the body switch, and Newton is marvellous being all sweet and innocent, and of course turns with the killer in her body making constantly sinister stares and smirks. The body swap format is always one used to humorous effect, and this one is no different, it cleverly mixes teen movie traits and scary movie conventions with a witty script filled with in-jokes, amusingly over-the-top gory kills, and much more to make you laugh and jump in equal measure, a terrific horror comedy. Very good!

Sound of Metal
(2019)

Sound of Metal
I remember seeing clips of this film and the review by Mark Kermode on BBC News, I didn't know what it was about until I read more about, and with its multiple nominations during Awards Season, there was no missing I was going to miss it. Basically, Ruben Stone (Oscar, BAFTA, and Golden Globe nominated Riz Ahmed) is a professional drummer and one half of the metal duo Blackgammon, along with the singer and his girlfriend, Lou Berger (Olivia Cooke). They live in an RV while travelling across the United States to perform gigs. During a performance, Ruben suddenly starts to lose his hearing. He goes to a pharmacy seeking a diagnosis, and the pharmacist (Michael Tow) refers him to a doctor. An audiologist (Rena Maliszewski) performs a hearing test and finds that Ruben can only make out 20-30 percent of words he hears. His hearing will deteriorate rapidly, and although cochlear implants may benefit him, they are highly expensive and not covered by insurance. The doctor suggests that Ruben eliminate all exposure to loud noises and later undergo further testing, but Ruben continues to perform. Lou learns of Ruben's condition and wants to stop performing for his safety, but he wants to continue. Lou is also concerned about Ruben's sobriety, being a recovering heroin addict. With Ruben's hearing continuing to deteriorate, he is taken to and accepted into a rural shelter for deaf recovering addicts. The shelter is run by recovering alcoholic Joe (Oscar and BAFTA nominated Paul Raci) who lost his hearing in the Vietnam War and lipreads. They leave, as Lou is not allowed to live with him, and he only wants to get implants. Lou, anxious for his well-being, leaves and persuades Ruben to return to the shelter. Ruben attends meetings to learn sign language, bonds with the other members, and eventually settles into his new life at the shelter. He also spends time with teacher Diane (Lauren Ridloff) and her class of deaf children to participate in lessons and activities. Despite a shaky start, Ruben eventually finds peace, is comfortable to communicate in silence, and connects with the children and the rest of the community. He gives the children and Diane basic drumming lessons. Ruben's stay has been sponsored by a church, but Joe offers him a permanent residency, as an employee of the community, and tells him to think about it. Ruben periodically looks online to see what Lou is up to, discovering her to be experimenting with her own music in Paris. He gets his friend Jenn (Chelsea Lee) to sell his drums and other music equipment, and sells his RV. He uses the money to pay for the cochlear implant surgery. Ruben asks Joe to loan him money to buy back his RV while he waits for his implants to be activated. Joe refuses, commenting that Ruben looks and sounds like an addict. Joe is disheartened and asks Ruben to leave the community, as it is founded on the belief that deafness is not a handicap. Upon activation, the implants allow Ruben to hear, but the sound from them is heavily distorted and not what he was hoping for. His disappointment disrupts his attempts to regain his old way of life. Ruben flies to meet Lou at the house of her wealthy father Richard (Mathieu Amalric) in Paris where she has settled into a new lifestyle. Richard welcomes him and allows him to stay. Richard confides in Ruben that he did not used to like Ruben, but he recognises that Ruben has made Lou happy. At a gathering, Lou and her father perform a duet, and Ruben's finds that he cannot clearly hear the music with his implants. Ruben and Lou discuss the possibility of playing music and touring again. Lou anxious, but they both comfort each other. The next morning, Ruben decides to go for walk, leaving Lou sleeping. Bothered yet again by the distortion of sounds, he sits on a bench and removes the implant processors from his head, becoming comfortable with the silence. Ahmed gives a highly convincing performance as the former drug addict who finds his sense of sound disappearing and all the life-changing elements that follow, Cooke is good as his devoted girlfriend, and Raci (who learnt to sign because his parents were deaf) also stands out as the community shelter leader. Besides the great performances, and an emotional and authentic story of the devastating impact of someone becoming deaf, this film boasts a brilliant use of sound design, with moments of clever sound flickering and sometimes complete silence, assisted by good cinematography and the score by Nicolas Becker and Abraham Marder, a well-crafted and most watchable drama. It won the Oscars for Best Sound, and Best Film Editing, and it was nominated for Best Motion Picture of the Year, and Best Original Screenplay, and it won the BAFTA for Best Sound, and Best Editing. Very good!

Minari
(2020)

Minari
I heard the title for this American made Korean language film a number of times when it received multiple nominations during Awards Season, so I was looking forward to watching it. Basically, set in 1983, the Korean immigrant Yi family moves from California to their new farm in rural Arkansas, where father and husband Jacob (Oscar nominated Steven Yeun) hopes to grow Korean fruits and vegetables to sell to vendors in Dallas. His first decision is to dig a well for a natural source of water. He enlists the help of eccentric local man and Korean War veteran Paul (Will Patton). While Jacob is optimistic about the life ahead, his wife Monica (Yeri Han) is disappointed and worries about their son David (BAFTA nominated Alan S. Kim). He suffers from a heart condition and is frequently told not to run. Jacob and Monica also find work separating chicks from male to female at the nearby hatchery. The couple have constant arguments about their situation, with David and his sister Anne (Noel Cho) eavesdropping. The couple arrange for Monica's mother Soonja (Oscar and BAFTA winning Yuh-Jung Youn) to travel from South Korea to help look after the children during the day. David is forced to share a room with her grandmother, who he hardly knows. He avoids her because she does not conform to being a conventional grandmother, often being rude, but she tries to adjust to life in America and bond with the children. The well that Jacob dug runs dry. Jacob is reluctant to pay for water services, but eventually is forced to do so. He runs into further difficulties, including a Dallas vendor cancelling their order at the last minute. But he perseveres despite Monica's telling him she wishes to return to California. This strains their marriage closer to the breaking point. Meanwhile, Soon-ja takes the children to plant minari seeds by the river. She tells them that minari is a most resilient and useful plant and predicts plentiful growth. Minari is a weed-like vegetable thrive in tough circumstances and flourishes in its second season after dying and being reborn. David finally begins to warm to his grandmother after she teaches him card games, bandages his wounds, and helps him to sleep. Soon-ja also encourages him to do more physical activity, something his parents discourage, saying that he is stronger than they think. Soon-ja suddenly suffers a stroke, she survives with medical treatment, but is left with impaired movement and speech. Jacob, Monica, Anne, and David travel to Oklahoma City for David's heart appointment and to meet a vendor to sell Jacob's produce. They learn that David's heart condition has dramatically improved, and Jacob makes a deal to sell vegetables to a Korean grocer. But Jacob indirectly admits to Monica that the success of his crops is more important to him than the stability of their family. Following an emotional argument, the two silently agree to separate. In their absence, Soon-ja accidentally sets the barn containing the produce on fire. Upon arriving home, Jacob rushes in to save the crops, and Monica soon follows. Eventually, the fire gets out of control, but the couple decide to save each other, leaving the barn to burn. A distraught and confused Soon-ja begins to wander off into the distance. Anne and David call for her to come back, but she does not respond. David sprints after her, she takes his hand, and the grandchildren lead her back home. The family fall asleep on the floor, exhausted from the night before. Above them, Soon-ja is awake, in a chair, watching them sleep with a subdued expression on her face. Sometime later, Jacob and Monica are with the water diviner who finds a spot for a well. They intend to stay on the farm and place a marker stone to signify this. Jacob and David then head to the river to harvest the minari, which had grown successfully, with Jacob noting how good a spot their grandmother picked to plant them. Also starring Scott Haze as Billy, and Eric Starkey as Randy Boomer. The performances of Yeun as the man who believes in the Americna Dream, Youn as the wily grandmother and young Kim as the sensitive little boy are all terrific. It is a semi-autobiographical story seen almost entirely from the point-of-view of a child, it has the moments of tragedy and sentimentality, but the bond with the boy and his grandmother and witty and warm, the farming element is interesting, and it is an authentic insight about the struggles of a family, a charming and worthwhile drama. It was nominated the Oscars for Best Motion Picture of the Year, Best Director for Lee Isaac Chung, Best Original Screenplay for Lee Isaac Chung, and Best Original Score for Emile Mosseri, and it was nominated the BAFTAs for Best Film Not in the English Language, Best Director, Original Score, and Best Casting, and it won the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture - Foreign Language. Very good!

The Father
(2020)

The Father
With cinemas being closed during the COVID-19 lockdown, it was difficult know when I'd be able to watch this on the big screen, so I'm thankful when it went online, with it being nominated during Awards Season, I was most keen to watch it, based on the acclaimed play by Florian Zeller, who debuts as writer and director. Basically, Anne (Oscar and Golden Globe nominated Olivia Colman) visits her father Anthony (Oscar and BAFTA winning, and Golden Globe nominated Anthony Hopkins) in his flat after he becomes aggressive towards his recent caretaker. Anthony has developing dementia and constantly forgets important life events and where things are in his flat, including his watch, even though he places it in the same place every day. He tells Anne he thinks his recent caretaker stole his watch and that he will never leave his flat. Anne tells Anthony she plans to leave London and move to Paris to live with her new boyfriend. Anthony is confused and thinks she is still married to James, but she tells him that they have been divorced for five years and leaves. The next day, Anthony sees a man he does not recognise named Paul (Mark Gatiss) and is confused that he is living with him in his flat. Paul states that Anthony lives with him and Anne. Anthony is confused when Anne returns from the shops with chicken for dinner and appears as a different woman (Olivia Williams). His confusion causes him to become frustrated. Anne schedules an interview for a new caretaker in his house. Laura (Imogen Poots) meets with Anthony for the position. During their meeting Anthony claims he was a professional dancer and that he doesn't need any living assistance. After Laura has been hired, Anthony states that she reminds him of his other daughter Lucy. He mentions that he has not talked to Lucy for months for reasons he is unaware of. Anthony is taken to Dr. Sarai (Coronation Street's Ayesha Dharker) by Anne and is asked about his memory; he claims he has no memory problems. Anthony tells Laura about how proud he is of his daughter Lucy, who is a painter. Laura tells him she is very sorry about Lucy's accident, but Anthony is unaware of what she is referring to. Laura drops the subject and moves on to give him his medication. Over the course of the film, it is revealed that Anthony has really been living with Anne and Paul for years, Paul has also changed in appearance (Rufus Sewell). But Anthony believes he is still living in his private flat. The night Anne comes back with the chicken from the market, she and Paul have an argument over a vacation to Italy they had to cancel to look after Anthony due to his difficult behaviour with the caretaker, and about how much Anne sacrifices for her father. Paul asks Anthony how long he plans to stay in their flat and annoy everyone, and he slaps Anthony to the point of crying. Then a few moments later, Paul's appearance changes again (Mark Gatiss), and the argument and slapping repeat. Anthony wakes up in his room and walks out of the flat, only to find himself in a hospital hallway. He remembers his daughter Lucy (Imogen Poots) died in a car accident at the hospital. He sees her bloody body in the hospital room. At that moment, he wakes up in a completely different bedroom, now in a nursing home. His nurse, Catherine (Olivia Williams), checks in on him and informs him Anne has moved to Paris with Paul and visits on occasional weekends. Another nurse, Bill (Mark Gatiss), also visits during their interaction. Anthony has an emotional breakdown over his inability to understand what is going on anymore and Anne's disappearance. He becomes child-like and cries wanting his mother. Catherine comforts him as he sobs and tells him she'll take him outside for a walk in the park. Hopkins gives an astonishing performance as the elderly man suffering the devastating illness and constant paranoia and confusion, Colman is terrific as his concerned daughter saddened by his deteriorating mind, and the support of Poots, Sewell, Williams and Gatiss is perfect. What makes this film stand out, besides the extraordinary Hopkins and the fantastic script, is the clever editing and structure of storytelling, with distorted realities and dramatic shifts in perspective, the visual trickery and twists are a literal representation of what having dementia must be like, it is a breath-taking and emotionally engaging drama. It won the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay, and it was nominated for Best Editing, Best Production Design, and Best Motion Picture of the Year, it won the Best Adapted Screenplay, and it was nominated for Best Film, Outstanding British Film of the Year, Best Production Design, and Best Editing, and it was nominated the Golden Globes for Best Motion Picture - Drama, and Best Screenplay. Very good!

His House
(2020)

His House
Before Awards Season, I never would have heard about this British scary movie, it looked and sounded really interesting, so I was definitely up for it. Basically, in war-torn South Sudan, Bol (Sope Dirisu) and Rial (BAFTA nominated Wunmi Mosaku) are refugees fleeing with their daughter, Nyagak (Malaika Abigaba). They brave stormy waters on an overcrowded motorboat with many fellow refugees on the perilous English Channel from France searching for a better life. Although they survive the treacherous crossing, their daughter and many others are killed. Three months, they have made it to Britain and are finally granted probational asylum. The government assigns them a dilapidated house on the outskirts of London which has peeling walls, dismal furnishings and almost no cleanliness. They are given strict restrictions, or they may face deportation. They experience racism and hatred from their neighbours. They are met by their case worker Mark (Matt Smith) who appears to be friendly and hopeful for them. Bol tries to incorporate himself to their new life, including interacting with others, trying to encourage Rial to use utensils for eating, and even changing how he dresses. Bol wants to prove to the government that he and Rial belong in the UK. Rial, however, clings to their culture, including dressing in colourful clothes and eating on the floor rather than at the table. She also keeps the necklace of their dead daughter. Both Bol and Rial soon experience strange and disturbing phenomena in their new home, seeing visions of Nyagak and a mysterious man, who both lurk in the walls. Rial works out that the evil in their house is an apeth (a ghostly being of South Sudanese Dinka folklore) or "night witch". She tells Bol the story of a poor man in her village who accidentally stole from an apeth by the river. When the thief built his home, the apeth moved in with him and haunted him. Rial believes that an apeth has followed them and if they repay their debt, the apeth will bring Nyagak back to them. But they do not know what the "debt" is that they need to repay. Bol burns everything they brought with them, but the evil spirit continues to torment him, and things deteriorate between the couple. Bol goes to Mark to request new accommodation, claiming that their home is infested with rats, but is unable to convince him. Bol tears apart the house looking for the apeth, and the chances for the couple staying in the UK are threatened when Mark discovers the damage. But Rial tells Bol that this is fine and that she wants to leave. Bol locks Rial in the house before he summons the apeth himself, who calls him a thief and claims that Bol took a life. The apeth offers Bol a deal: his life for Nyagak's, but he outright refuses this offer, resulting in Bol becoming so angered that he momentarily becomes catatonic. When Rial is tormented by the spirit, she manages to escape the house but finds herself inexplicably back in South Sudan in a familiar classroom. She is reunited with old friends, and a flashback reveals them to be victims of a horrendous massacre. Rial survived the massacre by hiding. Bol found her and the couple made their escape as violence gripped the region, but a bus service would only let on people with children. Nyagak was found by Bol in the crowd and abducted, the couple falsely claimed that she was their daughter. The couple boarded the bus and escaped, leaving Nyagak's real mother (Lola May) running behind the bus, as gunfire erupted. Later, many Africans crossed a rough sea, when Nyagak and others fell overboard. Neither Bol nor Rial could reach her in time. Having accepted what they did, Bol decides to repay the debt to the apeth and tells Rial the truth. Bol starts to let the apeth into his skin and Nyagak enters the room and returns to Rial. But Rial does not accept this alternate reality, she saves Bol by slitting the apeth's throat. Later, Mark comes to inspect the house to find it repaired. Bol and Rial tell him they have chosen to stay and make it their new home. They say Rial killed the witch that haunted them, which Mark finds funny. Bol says they decided to live and go on with the ghosts of their past from South Sudan, including Nyagak. Through the doorway, the spirits of other unknown immigrants are seen, and with them in the home, but the couple are then seen alone and stand holding holds in their new home with a peaceful look in their eyes. Also starring Javier Botet as the Witch, Emily Taaffe as Dr. Hayes, Dominic Coleman as Lead Officer, and Cornell John as the voice of the Witch. Dirisu and Mosaku both give great performances as the refugees seeking a better life, the mix of displacement, trauma and social alienation and the evil ghoul terrifying the couple is clever, it has well done traditional scares and hideous visual that get your attention, it is an imaginative take on the haunted house movie, an interesting horror thriller. It won the BAFTA for Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director, or Producer for Remi Weekes (writer/director), and it was nominated for Outstanding British Film of the Year. Very good!

Nomadland
(2020)

Nomadland
No worldwide pandemic was going to stop Awards Season, and thankfully many films had been made before the lockdowns happened, including this film that was getting many award nominations, based on a non-fiction book, from Oscar, BAFTA and Golden Globe winning director Chloé Zhao (the first woman of colour to win, and only the second female). Basically, set in 2011, the United States Gypsum Corporation plant in Empire, Nevada is shut down, and the town's ZIP code was discontinued. Fern (Oscar and BAFTA winning, and Golden Globe nominated Frances McDormand, also producing) worked there for years along with her husband, who has recently died. Having lost her job, Fern decides to sell most of her belongings and buy a van to live in and travel the country searching for work. She takes a seasonal job at an Amazon delivery packaging and shipment centre through the winter. Fern's friend and co-worker Linda (Linda May) invites her to visit a desert rendezvous in Arizona organised by Bob Wells (himself), which provides a support system and community for fellow nomads. Fern initially declines but changes her mind as the weather becomes cold, and she struggles to find work in the area. At the rendezvous, Fern learns basic survival and self-sufficiency skills for the road and meets many other nomads. When a tyre blows on Fern's van, she asks fellow nomad Swankie (Charlene Swankie) for a ride to town to buy a spare. Swankie berates Fern for not being prepared and they become good friends as she helps her to learn more road survival skills. Swankie tells Fern that she was diagnosed with cancer has a short life expectancy. She plans to make good memories on the road rather than spend whatever time she has left in hospital. They eventually part ways. Fern later finds work as a camp host at the Cedar Pass Campground in Badlands National Park. There she meets Dave (David Strathairn), another nomad working there temporarily; she met and danced with back at the desert community. Dave falls ill, and Fern visits him at the hospital where he has emergency surgery. The two of them later take restaurant jobs at Wall Drug in South Dakota. One night Dave's son visits the restaurant to inform him that his wife is pregnant and asking Dave to meet his grandchild. Dave is hesitant, but Fern encourages him to go. Dave suggests that she come with him, but she declines. Fern takes a new job at a sugar beet processing plant, but her van breaks down, and she cannot afford the repairs. Unable to borrow money, she visits her sister's family at their home in California. Her sister lends her the money, but questions why Fern was never around in their lives and why she stayed in Empire after her husband died. Fern's sister tells her she is brave to be so independent. Fern later visits Dave and his son's family; she learns that Dave has decided to stay with them long-term. Dave admits feelings for Fern and invites her to stay with him permanently in a guest house, but she decides to leave after only a few days and heads to the ocean. Fern returns to her Amazon job and later revisits the Arizona rendezvous. There she learns that Swankie has died, and she and the other nomads pay tribute to her life. Fern talks to Bob about her loving relationship with her late husband, and Bob shares the story of his son's recent suicide. Bob has the view that goodbyes are not final in the nomad community as its members always promise to see each other again "down the road." Sometime later, Fern returns to the nearly abandoned town of Empire to get rid of belongings she has been keeping in a storage unit. She visits the factory and the home she shared with her husband before returning to the road again. Also starring Gay DeForest as Gay, Patricia Grier as Patty, Angela Reyes as Angela, Carl R. Hughes as Carl, Douglas G. Soul as Doug, and Ryan Aquino as Ryan. McDormand gives a terrific performance as the free-spirited woman plunged into a transient existence being "houseless", Strathairn is likeable, while the rest of the cast is made up of real-life nomads essentially playing themselves. This film shows an unforgiving, independent, and almost spiritual lifestyle, with social gatherings and a sense of community, connecting with nature, it has fantastic cinematography and a melancholic and soothing score by Ludovico Einaudi, it is quiet and quirky, but a most worthwhile drama. It won the Oscar for Best Motion Picture of the Year, and it was nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay for Chloé Zhao, Best Film Editing, and Best Cinematography, it won the BAFTAs for Best Film, and Best Cinematography, and it was nominated the Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Sound, and Best Editing, and it won the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture - Drama, and it was nominated for Best Screenplay. Very good!

Green Room
(2015)

Green Room
I found this when it was broadcast on Film4, it was rated well, and had some good names in the cast, I gave it a chance and hoped for something worthwhile. Basically, bassist Pat (Anton Yelchin), guitarist Sam (Alia Shawkat), drummer Reece (Peaky Blinders' Joe Cole), and singer Tiger (Callum Turner) form the punk band the Ain't Rights. The band are travelling the Pacific Northwest, but their latest gig is cancelled. But radio host Tad (David W. Thompson) arranges a new show in a rural area outside Portland through his cousin, Daniel (Mark Webber). Arriving at the venue, they realise it's a neo-Nazi skinhead bar and they're opening for Cowcatcher, a NSBM (National Socialist black metal) band. They decide to go ahead with the show, managing to win over the skinheads. During their set, Pat notes two young women, Emily (Taylor Tunes) and Amber (Imogen Poots), looking disturbed and being taken out of sight. As the Ain't Rights are about to leave, Pat returns to the bar's green room to retrieve Sam's cell phone, where he finds Amber and the members of Cowcatcher standing over the body of Emily, who is dead after being stabbed in the head by Werm (Brent Werzner). Pat calls the police as he tries to flee, but is caught, and the rest of the band care captured by bar employees Gabe (Macon Blair) and Big Justin (Eric Edelstein) who confine them in the green room with Amber. Gabe pays one young skinhead to stab another to create a cover story for the police who respond to Pat's call. He consults with the bar's owner, skinhead leader Darcy (Patrick Stewart), who decides all witnesses need to be eliminated. More skinheads assemble at the bar, waiting until nightfall to kill the band and Amber. The band overpowers Big Justin, holding him hostage, taking his pistol and a boxcutter from his pocket. They negotiate with Darcy through the door, he asks them to surrender the gun. Pat agrees on the condition that they keep the bullets, but when he opens the door, the men attempt to force their way and slash his arm. They manage to close the door, but Pat loses the gun and is severely injured. Big Justin tries to escape, leading Reece to choke him unconscious. To finish him off, Amber slashes his stomach open with the boxcutter. Band members tear up the floorboards, hoping to find a way out, and discover a drug lab under the bar, but the only exit is locked from the outside. Arming themselves with improvised weapons, they attempt to fight their way out. Tiger is killed when an attack dog is unleashed by neo-Nazi Clark (Kai Lennox) and devours him. Amber and Pat drive the dog away with microphone feedback. Reece escapes through a window, only to be stabbed to death by Alan (Colton Ruscheinsky). Pat, Amber, and Sam retreat to the green room. Daniel arrives and Darcy sends him in to kill the remaining survivors, claiming they murdered Emily, his girlfriend. But instead, Daniel talks to them, and Amber explains that Werm murdered Emily after discovering she and Daniel were planning to leave the skinhead life. Daniel agrees to help them escape, but as they venture back out into the bar, the bartender (Jacob Kasch) shoots him dead. Pat kills the bartender, and the group takes his shotgun, only to find themselves confronted by the full skinhead force. Sam mortally wounds Clark's dog with the shotgun before it kills her, and Amber is shot as she and Pat once again retreat to the green room. With sunrise coming soon, Darcy has most of the skinheads disperse, taking Clark and Alan with him to stage a trespassing on his property. Gabe prepares to clean up the bar, while Jonathan (Samuel Summer) and Kyle (Mason Knight) are dispatched with the dog to finish off Pat and Amber. They formulate a plan for a last stand, shaving their heads and covering their faces with patterns, to appear as skinheads. They again use microphone feedback to scare off the dog before Pat lures Jonathan into the drug lab. As Kyle stands watch in the green room, Amber emerges from under the cushions of the couch and cuts his throat with the boxcutter. Pat and Jonathan fight, and Amber sneaks up and shoots Jonathan in the head. Gabe enters the green room to find his companions dead and surrenders to Pat and Amber. Holding Gabe at gunpoint, they trek through the woods. Pat and Amber decide to go after Darcy and approach his house, while Gabe goes to call the authorities, finding a nearby farm. Fleeing, Darcy pulls a revolver, before trying to flee, but he is shot in the legs and back, before being killed with a gunshot to the head. With all their ammunition and energy used, Pat and Amber sit on the side of the road, waiting for the police to arrive. I can see the comparison to movies like Assault on Precinct 13 and Straw Dogs, it is a little predictable at times, a familiar concept of characters trapped somewhere with no easy way out, but the moments of bloody violence are eye-catching, and it stays tense enough to keep the pace up, a reasonable thriller. Worth watching!

Black Sunday
(1977)

Black Sunday
I found this film when it was shown on TV, I was rated well and had some cast and crew names I recognised, so I gave it a go, based on the book by Thomas Harris (The Silence of the Lambs), directed by John Frankenheimer (Birdman of Alcatraz, The Manchurian Candidate, Seconds, Reindeer Games). Basically, the Goodyear Blimp is flown over every National Football League game to film them for network television. Michael Lander (Bruce Dern), a pilot who flies the blimp, has become derange by years of torture as a POW in the Vietnam War, he was court martialled, and his marriage failed. He feels suicidal and wants to take as many lives of innocent civilians, who he sees from the blimp, with him as possible. He is in love with Dahlia Iyad (Marthe Keller), an operative from the Palestinian terrorist group Black September, who controls and manipulates him. They conspire together to launch a suicide attack using a bomb composed of plastique and millions of steel flechettes (little arrows). They plan to mount the bomb on the underside of the gondola of the Goodyear blimp which traditionally flies over the Super Bowl football game and detonate it over Super Bowl X, to call attention to the plight of the Palestinians and to punish the US. For supporting Israel. During a raid on a Black September unit in the Middle East, counter-terrorist agent Major David Kabakov (Robert Shaw) surprises Iyad while she is showering. His mission was to kill everyone in the unit; however, seeing her unarmed and naked, he spared her life. She escapes as the building is exploded. When the raid is complete, Kabakov finds a recorded message which Iyad had planned to publish after the terrorist attack. The recording explains the motive for the terrorism but does not include any specific information about the planned attack. Collaborating with FBI agent Sam Corley (Fritz Weaver), Kabakov tries to learn the details of the plan. Together, they trace the path of a large amount of plastic explosive which Black September has illegally shipped into the USA. They realise that the Super Bowl, held at the Orange Bowl, Miami, Florida, is the target. The game will be attended by thousands of people, and the President of the United States, but it impossible to cancel the event. During the Super Bowl game, Kabakov figures out that Iyad and Lander have mounted the bomb on the Goodyear blimp. He and Corley commandeer a helicopter and pursue the blimp, accompanied by several other police helicopters. Loaded with the bomb, the blimp approaches the stadium. Lander pilots the blimp while Iyad exchanges deadly gunfire with policemen in the pursuing helicopters. Kabakov in his helicopter sees Iyad's face and recognises her as the woman whose life he previously spared. This time he does not hesitate; he shoots and kills her. Lander is mortally wounded, but he lasts long enough to succeed in flying the blimp straight into the Super Bowl, causing mass panic and destruction in the stadium. Just before dying, Lander lights the fuse of the blimp's bomb. With just minutes away from detonation, Kabakov lowers himself from the helicopter to the blimp, hooks it up a cable to the helicopter, which hauls it out of the stadium. Kabakov unhooks the cable from the blimp, which hovers above the ocean, he clings to the cable as the helicopter moves away to a safe distance. A few seconds later, the bomb explodes, firing the flechettes harmlessly into the water below. Also starring Steven Keats as Robert Moshevsky, Bekim Fehmiu as Mohammed Fasil, The Godfather: Part II's Michael V. Gazzo as Muzi, William Daniels as Harold Pugh, and Walter Gotell as Colonel Riat. Dern is interesting as the maniac, and Shaw as the Israeli command is good, the pace is a bit up and down at times, there are the chatty bits in between, but it is worth it for the sequences with high-speed chases, guns blazing, and of course the final tense clash between the blimp and the police, it is a gripping enough thriller. Worth watching!

Mulan
(2020)

Mulan
The trailer for this live-action remake of the Disney animated movie looked pretty good, and then it was getting some attention during Awards Season, so I was always going to watch it, directed by Niki Caro (Whale Rider). Basically, in ancient imperial China, Zhou (Dante's Peak's Tzi Ma) and Li (Rosalind Chao) hope that one day their daughter Mulan (Yifei Liu) will be wed to a good husband, but they are disappointed as she is more interested in being adventurous and active. Mulan is arranged to meet with a Matchmaker (Cheng Pei-pei) to demonstrate her fitness as a future wife. But while pouring tea, Mulan's younger sister (Xana Tang) is scared by a spider, causing a mishap, leading the matchmaker to call Mulan a disgrace in front of her family. In the north, an imperial outpost is invaded by Rouran warriors, under the leadership of warrior Böri Khan (Jason Scott Lee). They are assisted by the witch Xian Lang (Gong Li), who uses her magic to pose as a surviving soldier and report the attack to the Emperor of China (Jet Li). The Emperor then issues messages ordering every family to contribute one man to fight in the army against Khan's forces. Imperial soldiers arrive in Mulan's village to enlist recruits and Zhou is forced to pledge his service as he has no sons. But Mulan realises that her father has no choice of survival, due to his bad leg. She decides to flee with his armour, horse, and sword, posing as a man to join in his place. Mulan arrives at the training camp, which is run by Commander Tung (Donnie Yen), an old comrade of Zhou. Alongside dozens of other inexperienced recruits, going by the name of "Hua Jun", she ultimately becomes a trained soldier under his tutelage, trying to avoid her true identity being exposed. Khan's army continues to advance, forcing Tung to end training early and send his battalion to fight. Mulan chases some troops on her own, but is confronted by Xian Lang, who mocks her for pretending to be a man. While Mulan and Xian Lang fight on swampy ground, the Rourans begin attacking her fellow troops with a trebuchet. After the witch assumes she has killed Mulan with a sharp weapon and flying away, Mulan's chest was protected by her armour, which she removes. Riding back into battle without her male disguise, Mulan discarded helmets and her archery skills to cause a diversion. She manoeuvres the trebuchet into firing on a snowy mountain, triggering an avalanche and burying the Rourans. After rescuing fellow soldier Chen Honghui (Yoson An), and no longer able to hide her true gender, Mulan is spared from being killed, following her bravery. She is expelled from the army and begins her return home. On her way, she is confronted by Xian Lang, who reveals that she was also shunned by her people and fights for Böri Khan only because he treats her as an equal and that no one else does. She also reveals that the attacks on the outposts have been a diversion; Khan's true plan is to capture and execute the Emperor who killed his father. Risking execution, Mulan returns to her battalion to warn them of the impending invasion. The soldiers she befriended stand up for her, and Tung decides to believe her, and allows her to lead them to the Emperor's palace. Xian Lang uses her magic to transform into the Imperial Chancellor (Nelson Lee) and persuades the Emperor to accept Böri Khan's challenge to single combat, while city guards are removed from their posts. The guards are murdered, and the Rourans prepare to burn the Emperor alive. Mulan's unit distracts the Rourans while Mulan goes to save the Emperor. Khan tries to kill her with an arrow, but Xian Lang, sympathetic to Mulan and disenchanted from Khan, transforms into an eagle, and sacrifices herself by taking the arrow. She and Khan fight, during which he is able to disarm her and destroy her father's sword. Mulan causes Khan to fall to the ground, and when he is still alive, she finishes him off, killing him with an arrow to the chest. She frees the Emperor, who offers to let her join his personal guard. She declines the offer and returns to her village to be reunited with her family. After returning home, Commander Tung and a group of soldiers arrive to present Mulan with a new sword, while making a personal request that she join the Imperial Army as an officer. Also starring Rosalind Chao as Hua Li (Mulan's mother), Ron Yuan as Sergeant Qiang, Jun Yu as Cricket, Jimmy Wong as Ling, Chen Tang as Yao, Doua Moua as Chien-Po, Crystal Rao as young Mulan, and Elena Askin as young Xiu. Yifei Liu is terrific as the vulnerable but tough young woman wanting to honour her family, it sticks to roughly the same story, it has no wisecracking talking dragon or songs throughout (apart from "Reflection" by Christina Aguilera in the end credits), but with its extraordinary visuals, from colourful costumes and splendid landscapes, to stunning CGI and inventive action, it is a worthwhile fantasy adventure drama. It was nominated the Oscar for Best Visual Effects, and Best Costume Design, and it was nominated the BAFTA for Best Special Visual Effects. Good!

White Riot
(2019)

White Riot
Black Lives Matter has made a huge impact across the world over the last couple of years, this documentary was released less than a year before the movement really kicked into action, but it fits in with the important message very well. Basically, in August 1976, Eric Clapton told an audience in Birmingham he agreed with Enoch Powell that immigrants should be sent home, using the National Front slogan "Keep Britain White". Rod Stewart was also known at this time to make a hurtful and racist comment. In the late 1970s, black people and many from other cultures still faced derogatory public comments and hostility, especially during the anti-immigrant hysteria. In response, Rock Against Racism (RAR) was formed in 1976 when a group of artists united to take on the National Front. It started with public protests, with hundreds of people showing their disgust against the bigots and racists, and to make a point that all lives matter no matter what skin colour, religion, culture, or background you have. There was also the forming of Anti-Nazi League (ANL) going against the neo-Nazi generation. RAR's multicultural punk and reggae gigs provided rallying points for resistance. Photographer Red Saunders was the founder of RAR and recruited typesetter Roger Huddle and office manager Kate Webb to assist his most ambitious headline-making event. A Rock Against Racism carnival was organised in Victoria Park, with a concert featuring punk rock band X-Ray Spex, Birmingham reggae band Steel Pulse, headliner Tom Robinson, and the popular rock band The Clash, along with many multi-cultural artists and musicians to perform on stage. In these days, there was no social media, so the event was only spread by telephone calls, some small journalism and word-of-mouth. However, the organisers were shocked by the response and gathering of both fans of the acts, and supporters against racism. In the end, the carnival was a huge success, attended by 100,000 people. This event certainly made history in Britain and around the world. It would be part of the future change in attitudes towards race and ethnicity. The movement undoubtedly helped the defeat of the National Front were defeated at the 1979 general election, but, as the final text says: "The fight is far from over". This film combines archive footage and photographs taken from the day of the event, and the times leading up to it, and it is shocking to see the racist and horrendously nasty comments made by people at the time about people of colour and other cultures. This film delivers a powerful message, it has some good music obviously, and it shows how one event can make a world of difference, it is an interesting documentary. Worth watching!

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