Sunday, 11 January 2015

2014 Catch up part 5

When Nicholas McCarthy's film was originally released at the IFC Midnight film festival it was titled Home - a title that would not look amiss on the DYI channel - but it got the name change to something rather more exciting. At the Devil's Door is Nicholas McCarthy's sophomore effort (his second feature film following the impressive The Pact) and it shows signs that McCarthy is a perfectly capable director as his latest film is a technical accomplishment. The film certainly has its moments, there are some good chills, particularly in the film's superbly creepy opening  and film's refreshingly ambiguous ending but the film's best ideas are taken from more accomplished and better horror films such as Rosemary Baby and The Omen.

It is admirable that McCarthy doesn't decide to throw scare after scare at the screen without any subtlety as he attempts to build an unnerving atmosphere and to his credit he does a reasonably good job (he is helped by Bridger Nielson dark and foreboding cinematography). The problem is, however, that the limited number of jump scares in the film are so blatantly signposted that they have a limited effectiveness even despite the fact they are used so sparingly.  Further problems arise narratively, McCarthy tells the generational story (which is a tad confusing at first) from the perspective of three different female protagonists but we spend so little time with each of the three protagonists that it difficult to elicit any empathy for the characters.

Nicholas McCarthy's film has potential and some good ideas, but the problem is these good ideas have already been explored and discussed by better and more notable horror films. Still McCarthy is probably one to watch in the coming years,


Almost a decade after the first film the second film of Frank Miller's Sin City series was released, whether anyone actually wanted it was debatable but what isn't debatable if the fact that nobody went to see it as it bombed at the box office. Anyway, much like the first film Sin City: A Dame to Kill For is set in Basin City and concerns itself with the stories of the various citizens in the city famed for its violence, sex and alcohol. One Sin City's citizens is Nancy (Jessica Alba) who is determined to get revenge on the evil Senator Roark (Powers Boothe) for the role he played in John Hartigan's (Bruce Willis)suicide. Other stories included Joseph Gordon-Levitt's gambler, Josh Brolin's Private Detective Dwight McCarthy who receives a visit from a former lover which sets in motion a series of potential life changing events.

Frank Miller's Neo-noir crime thriller comic books series was brought to the screen with a great level of visual uniqueness and inventiveness that made the film stand out and become a cult hit. The sequel retains much of the first visual brilliance as it sticks rigidly to the source's comic book origins, it is the unique visuals that make the film an enjoyable one to watch. What it is lacking, however, from the first is a narrative on an equally gripping scale. Though the film is interesting the enough and the performances excellent (Powers Boothe in particular is superb) it does lack the originality that made the first Sin City such a treat.


In deepest Peru dwells Paddington (voiced by Ben Whitsaw) and his family (voiced by Imelda Staunton and Michael Gambon). Paddington lives happily with his aunt (Staunton) and uncle (Gambon) until an earthquake devastates his home and he forced to live on London. Upon arrival in London, Paddington meets the Brown family who begrudgingly accept him their home until Paddington finds the explorer who said that the bear family are always welcome in London. However, dangers lurk in London as Nicole Kidman's evil Millicent wants to collect and stuff Paddington. The sheer likeability of the bear is what drives Paul King's cinematic adaptation of the works of Michael Bond. For the older members of the audience the nostalgic feel of film and the character of Paddington is what is perhaps the most appealing, for the younger members the high number of scenes involving slapstick is what will appeal to them. Ben Whitsaw excellent voice work adds a touch of vulnerability to Paddington and Nicole Kidman adds a degree of menace to proceedings.  The film is child friendly, the jokes are slapstick and childish and plot basic and predictable but the film is so sweet and good hearted that it's impossible to hate unless you're emotionally dead or something


Richard Linklater's Boyhood is a film not quite like any other, filmed and set over the course of twelve years we watch central character, Mason Evans Jr. (Ellar Coltrane), grow from a small six year old child to an tall, gnarly teenager (like all teenagers, really). As we spent so much time with him and watch him grow up from a young child the viewer feels as though we are a massive part of his life, it makes for quite an incredible experience as we watch Mason go through the main life experiences from graduation to birthdays.

What is particularly interesting is Mason's relationship with his parents, his mother (Patricia Arquette) has the difficult job of raising both of her children and naturally this strains the relationship with her son and daughter also the constant moving home and various father figures adds further strain on this relationship. With the exception of Ethan Hawkes' Mason Sr the father figures are all presented, rather simplistically, as arseholes as though Linklater suggests that the only father like figure a child will connect to is the biological father himself.

The performances are exceptional, Ellar Coltrane is a revelation in the central role as he plays a character brimmed with personality and has both flaws and positive traits. However, what is most impressive is the scope of the project which is nothing short of admirable. It is clear that Linklater is the star of the film as he directs a film that is massive in scope but also hugely immersive. Boyhood really is quite a special film.


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