A Ghost Story, review

Having a mainstream actor on screen whose face you only see for around 20 minutes during a 90 minute film sounds pretty jarring. Then when you mix that with the fact that his face is obscured by a white sheet as he plays a ghost of his former self, it’s borderline ludicrous. It’s a film that shouldn’t work, that shouldn’t make you feel, that you should be laughing at. However, thanks to the embracing performances, lingering camera shots and sparing use of dialogue, this is a film that makes you think about love, loss, acceptance and grief in a profoundly deep and moving way.

It’s no spoiler to say that around 10 minutes into the film, Casey Affleck’s character dies, leaving Rooney Mara to grieve. It cuts to Mara looking at Affleck’s body covered in a white sheet in a hospital. A long and looming shot of the room after Mara leaves shows Affleck’s ghost get up and walk around, eye holes have already been provided. From here he walks around the hospital and eventually makes his way back to their home where he is unable to leave. His interactions are only with that of another entity next door. The way the camera looks at a room, or a person, it’s examining all after affects of death and how it much it hits you.

He looks over the bereft Mara as she slowly begins to move on and live her life, up until the moment she leaves. It’s soon after we realise that he’s stuck in this house for some reason. The film only briefly slips into poltergeist territory when a Mexican family moves into the house and he disrupts their home. During a significant course of time, different people are shown to be living here, inhabiting what Affleck clearly still feels is his space.

There are consistent leering shots, all of which appear to be looking to a person in greater detail than we see. One in particular sticks with you in which Rooney Mara sits Whilst at the same time asking yourself, what kind of pie is that? Is it chocolate? Is it pumpkin? Maybe it’s savoury? How many takes did Rooney have to do? How many pie did she eat? WHAT FLAVOUR IS THE PIE?

The pair are never named in the film, they are never given a chance to address each other in such a way but their relationship transcends words and becomes more complex through gestures, looks and movements. It becomes a comment on how love and loss can both be expressed in similar ways; with looks and not words, with gestures, with unshared thoughts.

With it’s subtle and haunting score, nuanced performances and steering mostly clear of the paranormal route, this is a haunting experience that will stay with you for a long time.

4 out of 5.

Keep. It. Reel.

 

Bushwick, review

Dave Bautista gives a brutal and emotional performance, packing several punches throughout this sub-par thought provoking film about a modern day civil war taking place in the New York suburb of Bushwick.

We are introduced to the town via an overhead shot through helicopters patrolling the air above, it’s an almost calming influence before being thrown head first into the chaos below. Lucy (Brittany Snow) arrives at the ordinarily quiet town and becomes caught up in the gunfire, explosions and fires. Running away from the violence, still confused she encounters two men who briefly trap her before Stoop (Bautista) rescues her with a brutal attack. Still in shock, Lucy is full of questions, however neither knows what is really going on.

The pair team up, desperately trying to get somewhere safe, encountering people in similar situations as well as having to fight against the militia several times over. During these scenes, the camera rarely stops moving, whether it’s following characters up some stairs, through a doorway, on a bike. It’s an almost seemingly continuous shot, with two cuts, separating the film into a three act structure. It’s a technique which works out well as it is consistently introducing new characters and problems to solve.

There are continuity errors, as well as low levels of attention to detail and it’s lack of knowing where it wants to go at times. This can be said of the characters too who, at one point, make their way up to the roof of a school just to head back down almost immediately. A couple of times, when a character is supposed to have died, you could very clearly see them breathing and, at one point, blink. It’s errors like these, as well a miscast Angelic Zambrana as Lucy’s sister, which is where the film doesn’t quite live up to its brilliant start.

The film certainly knows what it is, a messy no holds barred brutal action film, with its heart firmly at the centre. It’s superb central performances, incredible camera work and the use of sound (gunfights and explosions often happen to the side but are equally violent as those you see in front of you) can all be credited to the directors Cary Murnion and Jonathan Milott who have done an amazing job one the action with a small budget. However, whilst it’s certainly an enjoyable watch, it isn’t a memorable one.

3 out of 5.

Keep. It. Reel.

My 100th Post

This is my 100th blog post. It’s been a long road to get to this point but I think it’s been worth it. Recently I’ve started to follow more and more bloggers on WordPress as well as Twitter and it’s one hell of a community. There are some really wonderful film blogs out there, some very alternative ones, some interesting mainstream ones, those which cover classic films, the ones who love the indies. I urge you to check them out, here’s a few links to some really good ones I’ve seen.

http://letsstartwiththisone.blogspot.co.uk/

http://lukesfilmblog.com/

http://mrmarakai.wordpress.com/

http://legallybod.wordpress.com/

http://adashofcinema.com/

http://emptyscreens.com/

http://moviewise.wordpress.com/

I have done a lot too, been to so many things, events, cinemas, just had a great time since I started this blog. I’ve been to the London Film Festival twice (first time getting to meet Marion Cotillard and then meeting Ralph Fiennes), visited the brilliant and gorgeous Aubin Cinema, returned to the IMAX twice in one year (once for the Dark Knight Rises and once for Gravity), finally made it to the Rooftop Cinema Club in Shoreditch, been to the Harry Potter World at the Warner Brother Studios in Watford, watched countless films, bought countless DVDs (my collection recently surpassed 400), went to my very first film marathon at the Prince Charles Cinema, went to the awful Ramoji Film City in Hyderabad, got to go to the James Bond in Motion exhibition, Sundance London’s first and second year and the VFX Festival which I didn’t even know existed until a few weeks before I went.  Here’s a few photos from the past two years

For this post, I wanted to include something a bit random and special. Vue Cinemas have kindly provided me with a link to this make-up tutorial to create a high street look similar to that of Angelina Jolie’s in Disney’s new film, Maleficent. A really good video tutorial with the talented Marcos Gurgel who has worked on several diverse projects including The Voice, Strictly Come Dancing, and on titles such as Radio Times, Sunday Times and OK! magazine. He has recently worked on shows during London and Paris Fashion weeks. Have a look below

I also wanted to include a few other images which I’ve seen recently, it’s a mix of all odds and sods, some new films, posters, random images of actors and the Batman exhibition opening in LA. Fingers crossed they bring that here.

As for the future of this blog, don’t worry this isn’t where I will sign off for good. In fact not a tall. I’ve got plenty of ideas coming up including an online film festival, visiting more unusual cinemas, going to more film festivals in London and around the country, interviews with those who are up and coming in the movie industry, once again staying up for the Oscars and just so much more I don’t want to tell you about just yet!

Thanks for reading and as ever, Keep. It. Reel