Film Reviews August
Film reviews August. Summer is in full swing and after July’s look at the best outdoor movie events, we return to the cinema for our next batch of reviews. Let’s take a look at the month in more depth…
FILM OF THE MONTH: DELIVER US FROM EVIL – 4 stars (out 22nd Aug)
A very effective chiller from the mind behind Sinister and The Exorcism of Emily Rose, Deliver Us From Evil expertly merges conventional horror with a taunt crime-thriller. Inspired by real-life events, New York police officer Ralph Sarchie (Eric Bana) reluctantly joins forces with an unconventional priest named Mendoza (Edgar Ramirez) when evidence in a baffling case leads to the occult. It echoes Seven in the way it creates fear, with a foreboding sense of dread running deliciously throughout the story. There are plenty of creepy moments which easily help to make this one of the best horrors of 2014.
BLOOD TIES – 3 stars (out 15th Aug)
An astutely put-together period drama set in 1970s Brooklyn. Billy Crudup and Clive Owen play brothers on either side of the law, set on a collision course. Their magnetism shines in a tale of brotherly love and poor choices, with a classic 70’s soundtrack beautifully blanketing this effort from director Guillaume Canet. The stellar supporting cast are impressive too with James Caan, Mila Kunis, Marion Cotillard, Lili Taylor, Matthias Schoenaerts and Zoe Saldana all lending their considerable support to the film.
THE PURGE: ANARCHY – 3 stars (out 25th July)
A sequel to 2013’s surprise horror hit – this time we follow a random group of strangers led by the brilliant Frank Grillo, who are forced to survive the annual Purge night. A shift in gear takes us away from the confines of a house and instead drops us onto the streets, slap-bang during the kill-fests. This change of pace is a very welcome one and brings with it edge-of-your-seat thrills. The key to enjoying these films is to leave all logic at home though. You shouldn’t think too much about the flawed premise because you can pick holes in it at will. Logic rarely enters into the equation here but it’s enjoyable nonsense all the same, with nice satirical social commentary to boot.
EARTH TO ECHO – 3 stars (out 25th July)
A group of school friends are forced to say their goodbyes when their neighbourhood is sold off to wealthy land developers. On their last night together, they decide to investigate a series of strange electrical disturbances and uncover a stranded alien that needs their help to get home. Channelling films like Super 8 and ET, with a kid-friendly Chronicle vibe, Earth to Echo provides plenty of fun and adventure. Unashamedly tries to emulate those throwback family-films of the late 70’s and 80’s to good effect.
WHAT IF – 3 stars (out 20th Aug)
Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan shine in this promising rom-com. What do you do if you’ve found the girl of your dreams, only to find that she already has a boyfriend and just wants to be friends with you? This is the dilemma facing Radcliffe in a role that he affably handles with great comedy and genuine warmth. Kazan does brilliantly as his potential love interest and the chemistry positively bubbles between them. The only downside is that the film isn’t brave enough to follow through with its big intentions and occasionally rests on tried and tested cliché. A great date-movie but ultimately could have been a genre classic with a few more risks taken.
MOOD INDIGO – 3 stars (out 1st Aug)
From the colourful mind of Michel Gondry comes this curious and breathlessly original fable about true love. Colin (French acting royalty Romain Duris) is a wealthy playboy who struggles to find the right woman until Chloé (Amelie’s Audrey Tautou) walks into his life. Matters soon take a turn for the worse after she falls ill (a flower starts to grow in her lungs) so Colin must use all of his wealth to find a cure. Surreal and well made with an attention to detail that’s stunning, Mood Indigo is inventive throughout. But be warned – this won’t be to everyone’s taste. You really need to be in the right mood for this level of French free-thinking and experimentation.
THE CONGRESS – 3 stars (out 15th Aug)
Robin Wright stars as herself in this cautionary tale about the future of acting and personal identity. At 44 years old, Robin doesn’t get acting gigs as regularly as she used to and is struggling to make ends meet. The head of the movie studio (Danny Huston) makes her a curious offer – let the studio scan her into a computer and they would then own her image and acting rights to use as they wish. She also cannot act ever again, in any form. She reluctantly agrees and 20 years pass before she challenges the system and faces the ramifications and consequences of her actions. Ari Folman’s visionary adaption of Stanislaw Lem’s novel is an absorbing drama but too frequently gets lost in itself. The film also turns into an animation midway through.