London Film Festival 2020: ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI…

★ ★ ★ 1/2

London Film Festival 2020 is running from October 2nd through to October 19th, and I’ll be variously covering a few films from the event this year…

On one calm evening in 1964, in the heart of Miami, four men gathered who would, in their own way, influence not just black culture but 20th century American history.

One Night in Miami… is that story, the ellipsis at the end of the title in service of the urban fable that such a confluence suggests. This quartet reflect four quadrants of experience as the Civil Rights movement was gathering steam in counter-cultural America, each overlapping the other. Malcolm X (Kingsley Ben-Adir), founder of the Nation of Islam and black power scion; Cassius Clay (Eli Goree), the self-proclaimed greatest boxer there ever is, ever was or ever will be, on the verge of Muslim conversion; Jim Brown (Aldis Hodge), NFL linebacker and legend who has grown weary of his path; and Sam Cooke (Leslie Odom Jr), one of the greatest voices in soul who ever lived, currently trapped within a sphere of white middle-class appeasement he cannot escape.

Regina King’s debut feature is a contained night in the life; a reckoning between four black cultural and political titans heading in the same direction while treading very different roads to get there.

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London Film Festival 2020: RELIC

★ ★ ★

London Film Festival 2020 is running from October 2nd through to October 19th, and I’ll be variously covering a few films from the event this year…

The feature length debut of film short director Natalie Erika James, Relic slots neatly in the pantheon of a new, emerging sub-genre: familial horror.

Picture the quiet, deliberately introverted set up. Set in the woodland wilderness of New Zealand, Kay (Emily Mortimer) and her daughter Sam (Bella Heathcote) respond to the disappearance of their family matriarch Edna (Robyn Nevin) from the home she lives in alone, an elderly lady suffering from dementia who has vanished out of nowhere. The eeriness begins as Edna, after Kay returns to a homestead she hasn’t visited in some time and reconnects with her past, suddenly reappears but begins to display strange behaviour that goes beyond her degenerative disease, connected perhaps to the dreams Kay is having of the withered corpse inside an old woodland shack. Is Edna becoming more than just a dying old woman?

Well… that would be telling. The clues are there, however, as Relic dials into creeping terror within the home, using quiet, pastoral surroundings to engage with dread. It doesn’t really do anything new with the material, but it often manages to work.

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New BRWC Article: There is only one bad actor in Cineworld’s closure

New BRWC article!

It’s my intention to start writing a little more for other websites alongside the blog here, and I penned a piece last year for Battle Royale With Cheese, who were kind enough to publish an opinion piece on the disappointing news that Cineworld are closing all of their U.K. cinemas for the foreseeable future and laying off staff.

Click beyond the jump for a sample of the piece and a link to the article…

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★ ★ 1/2

Anxiety is a monster, especially unchecked, and Amy Seimetz’s She Dies Tomorrow is the ultimate expression of the condition as a horrific construct.

Based in no small part on Seimetz’ experiences, and funded thanks to her role in the remake of Pet Sematary, she crafts a personal, if often quite ponderous, picture. Amy (Kate Lyn Sheil), so named after Seimetz in case the autobiographical aspects are unclear, has just bought a house in Los Angeles but is crippled by a strange sense of existential dread, convinced that she will, as the title suggests, die tomorrow. Her friend Jane (Jane Adams), who calls to congratulate her, at first finds her unnerving conviction ridiculous but slowly she succumbs to the same escalating feeling of doom. Almost akin to a virus, Amy’s unshakeable belief ripples across her circle of friends and contacts before building to devastating consequences.

You might feel She Dies Tomorrow is, from this description, a low-key horror movie. It’s not. Nor is it a comedy, as has been billed. It’s neither, and both, and unable to figure out quite what it is, all rolled into one.

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★ ★ 1/2

Dementia serves as a cruel indulgence in Sally Potter’s latest introspective wallow, The Roads Not Taken, a short but thankfully sweeter film than her last.

Potter is, to put it mildly, a hit and miss director, though to just call her by that title is to dismiss the powerful, all-consuming role she plays in her films. In this one alone, she writes, co-edits and scores the film, besides directing. She plays one of the main parts too in The Tango Lesson. A film by Potter really is, soup to nuts, a film by Potter, and The Roads Not Taken is no exception. She brings most of her pictures in tightly – this is eighty minutes, her last film The Party a mere seventy-one. There is a welcome economy to Potter’s work, a brevity which other filmmakers would do well to import, but despite this a film by Potter often feels longer than the running time. Again, The Roads Not Taken, an intentionally fragmented, insular and personal work, is no exception.

Leo (a somber Javier Bardem) is a middle-aged man suffering from advanced dementia as he is visited by his loyal daughter Molly (Elle Fanning), and the film charts the course of their journey across one day, as Molly takes Leo for medical checkups and must cope with his physical and psychological deterioration in public and around professionals. Simultaneously, while trapped in the mental prison of his condition, Leo plays out several parallel versions of his past, including a life in rural Mexico with his ex-wife Dolores (Salma Hayek), and a visit to Greece, alone, where he becomes obsessed with following a group of young women, one of whom reminds him strongly of his daughter. A third parallel life, which would have seen Leo living with his male partner (played by Chris Rock) in New York, was filmed but cut from the picture entirely. 

Potter’s film nonetheless interweaves these three journeys for Leo as he tries to contextualise his experience with great difficulty.

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