★★★★☆ Elle, SBS Productions & Twenty Twenty Vision Film Produktion & France 2 Cinéma
This French film is at its finest. Elle is intense with a surprising sense of humour embedded into the mix, and will leave you hanging on to the edge of your seats, right until the very end.
Michèle (played by Isabelle Huppert) is sexually assaulted in her own home by an unknown masked man. However, the only witness to the crime is her cat. Without giving it much thought, Michèle refuses to involve the police and begins to track her attacker down, but in her own time and in her own way. This involves the purchase of very strong pepper spray, an axe and learning to fire a gun with the help of colleague Kevin, (played by Arthur Mazet).
This is a game of cat and mouse with the roles being some what unclear, and which at any given minute, everything could spiral out of control.
If you don’t realise this film is in French, then the credits at the beginning might just give it away. Directed by the legendary Dutch filmmaker Paul Verhoeven, this film is perfect for any psychological thrill seekers out there. It’s gripping, more modern than classic and at times, will make you gasp out of shock and horror.
However, there are times throughout the film where you find yourself laughing, whether that be at the witty banter about sex between Michèle and her mother Irène, (played by Judith Magre) or because of the clever comebacks Michèle constantly comes up with, despite the trauma she just went through. It is surprisingly funny throughout, but that doesn’t take over the elements of shock amongst the graphic scenes of sex and violence.
Each scene is beautifully shot and with the mixture of the music and sounds, creates an element simply unexplainable. The hairs on your arms would stand and you would find yourself clenching your fist not in anger, but in fear of what came next. The suspense; torturous and the intriguing feeling in the pit of the stomach was tense and just about all you could take.
Amongst all the drama with colleagues, the secret affairs, trouble with friends and disputes with family, it’s revealed that Michèle is the daughter of serial killer Charles Leblanc, who is rotting away behind prison bars. “A monster” in the eyes of Michèle and “no more than a man” according to mother Irène. Although many years have passed, there are still whispers that linger in the dark that Michèle was somehow involved in these crimes, at a tender age of just ten.
Haunted by her father and the past she carries on her shoulders, Michèle is a fierce woman with no signs of giving up on life just yet. 39 years after her father was arrested, Michèle won’t give up any fight and refuses to be seen as anything but a strong leader.
Elle is an outrageous black comedy, volatile and deadly and its leading lady delivers a standout performance, one yet to be forgotten.
Santa Clarita Diet may not be a new release in cinemas, but it’s a Netflix original that’s got everyone talking, and maybe even their tastebuds wondering. It’s a dark comedy for those who can tolerate a lot of blood, and maybe even a few guts.
This new series, created by Victor Fresco, comprises of ten 30 minute episodes. It has the world hooked and surprised at just how weirdly entertaining it is. The show stars Sheila (played by Drew Barrymore) and her husband Joel, (played by Timothy Olyphant) as real estate agents living in sunny California, along with their teenage daughter Abby (played by Liv Hewson). They’re happy married and a loving family. However, they realise that soon, everything will change and that they’re lives won’t ever be the same again.
Their lives take a turn for the dramatic as Sheila suddenly and inexplicably becomes a zombie, after puking up an inhumanly amount of vomit in the house her and Joel are trying to sell, *awkward.*
The transformation from casual, boring to highly energetic and horny Sheila is astounding. It’s almost as if she’s a completely new person, except for the fact she isn’t and she’s just a dead woman walking. The only downside of all this, she needs to eat human flesh.
When it comes to the jokes, they don’t always turn out to be gut wrenchingly funny. However, the coupling of Barrymore and Olyphant work wonders. The two actors have a bond and an intense onscreen connection, and it’s nice to see both Barrymore and Olyphant in something different than what they’re used to. It’s their chemistry that seem to pull off every single murder joke available, and still have us wanting more. As the episodes draw to its conclusion, there seems to be a lot more swearing, especially comparing it to the start of the show. The first few episodes dabbled provocatively with a few f bombs here and there, but it’s not until you experience the full blown fuck explosion, that you release Barrymore and Olyphant have upped their game on the department of swear words.
A wise word for the audience, don’t eat whilst watching. There is a plethora of blood and guts, and Barrymore doesn’t hold back when it comes to feeding time, she bites down on a man’s arm as if it were steak filet. The Suburban sitcom is no doubt the next zombie show making a hit, and with its current casting; it’s looking doubtful that people won’t want more. Can you call Santa Clarita Diet bingeable? We think so, and very easily too.
*No real humans were harmed in the making of this show*
As Christmas soon approaches (one more sleep!!!…) We thought it only fitting to give you our top eight favourite films for this festive season.
“To me, you are perfect”
This film might not be one for the kids, however, it’s funny and extremely entertaining for us adults. It has every actor you can think of from Hugh Grant, Liam Neeson to Rowan Atkinson and Emma Thompson. The story starts five weeks before Christmas and delves into different aspects of love, which is shown through a variety of stories. As the plot develops, it becomes clearer that some of the characters are interlinked somehow. Along with a great soundtrack, this is definitely one to watch when the kids have gone to bed.
“You know what I really want to do? I want to eat carbs without wanting to kill myself”
This might be a tad long as films go (just over two hours), but The Holiday is heartwarmingly brilliant. Jack Black, Jude Law, Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz make the perfect quartet. Two women (who both have troubling love lives) swap houses for the holiday for some peace and quiet. However, both don’t realise they might just meet the man of their dreams along the way.
“The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear”
This film might not suit everyone’s cups of tea, but for us, it’s too funny not to add. Will Ferrell adds the slap to slapstick humour. The story starts in the North Pole, with Buddy, played by Will, finding out that he’s actually human (this is slightly obvious as he is the tallest being in a room full of elves). He goes off into the world in search of his biological father, and whilst doing that, spreading Christmas cheer to those who need it. A film we cannot get enough of.
“Last time I took Evie for a spin, I didn’t know it was the Cuban missile crisis! I nearly started World War III”
The first animation on our list of treats for you this Christmas. Arthur is the son of Santa and he has a mission. In less than two hours, he has to send out a present to a little girl whose present was misplaced. With voices including James McAvoy, Hugh Laurie, Bill Nighy and Imelda Staunton; this is a cute family friendly film with a great christmassy feeling throughout. It might just get people into the Christmas spirit, especially those cynics out there.
“Keep the change, ya filthy animal”
This is a classic, and if you haven’t seen the original Home Alone film, then where have you been all these Christmases? The film follows a young boy, Kevin, after he is accidentally left home alone for Christmas. However, he must protect his home after two burglars are found trying to break in. Child star Macaulay Culkin plays the character of a troublemaker so beautiful and effortlessly. It’s well worth a watch for those who might not have seen it before.
It’s a Wonderful Life
“What is it you want, Mary? What do you want? You want the moon? Just say the word and I’ll throw a lasso around it and pull it down. Hey. That’s a pretty good idea. I’ll give you the moon, Mary”
This is the oldest film in the bunch, but oh how beautiful it is. An angel helps a businessman who is frustrated with life, by showing him just what life would be like if he were to never exist. It’s heartwarming and emotional, and makes you realise that Christmas is all about one thing, family. This film puts everything into perspective and makes you think just how lucky we all are.
The Nightmare Before Christmas
“Boys and girls of every age, wouldn’t you like to see something strange? Come with us and you will see, this, our town of Halloween”
Here is something different. Unlike Christmas films all about Christmas, this one has a slight twist. It’s got a mixture of Halloween to it. Jack Skellington is the king of Halloween Town who discovers Christmas Town for the first time. He tries to bring the festive season to his own town, but this causes confrontation and slight confusion. This film brings a great soundtrack alongside it, with catchy Halloween songs that somehow, still make you think of Christmas. This is a must watch for those quirky Christmas lovers out there.
The Santa Clause
“Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night”
This one is an oldie but a goodie. When a man accidentally kills Santa on Christmas Eve, he finds himself magically recruited to be his replacement. This is a family comedy for all ages, and puts you right in the heart of the festive season. Tim Allen plays Santa humorously; he is the perfect Santa Clause.
★★★★☆ Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Hayday Films
To all Potterheads – this is it. We have been waiting for this moment for 15 years. The ‘prequel’ to the Harry Potter films is finally here.
Directed by David Yates, and yet another story from J.K. Rowling, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is set 70 years or so before Harry Potter even took his first breath into the wonderful wizarding world. Although set in America, what we have come to learn from this film is that magic is not limited to Hogwarts, The Ministry of Magic or number 4 Privet Drive. There’s so much more to the story, and we have only just scratched the surface.
What do we know so far? Newt Scamander, (played by Eddie Redmayne), is a writer in search of his lost beasts who escape the magical briefcase he carries. Whilst on the hunt to make sure all his beloved creatures are back in the case and safe, he stumbles upon Porpentina ‘Tina’ Goldstein, (played by Katherine Waterston) who is an ex Auror for the Magical Congress of the United States of America (MACUSA), and Jacob Kowalski (played by Dan Fogler, who is a muggle- or a ‘No-Maj’ as the Americans like to call them.
We also get introduced to Queenie, Tina’s sister (played by Alison Sudol) who is a Legilimens- she has the ability to read people’s minds. She is sweet, utterly gorgeous and perhaps a bit dim witted at first glance.
The start seems slow, with a glance of what potentially could be Gellert Grindelwald, the infamous dark wizard. Before Voldemort, he was the most feared and dangerous wizard. After this brief encounter, the wheels move forward at a slow pace as we come to realise why Newt is in New York and what becomes of the briefcase he is possessively holding all the time.
There is an array of characters that we meet along the way, some intriguing and some downright wonderful- Credence Barebone (played by Ezra Miller) being wonderfully intriguing. His presence at first is confusing. Who is he? Why is he here? What is so important about him? He comes in a pack, well family. His adoptive mother Mary Lou and his sister, Modesty amongst other adoptive sisters and brothers. All of them are part of the New Salem Philanthropic Society, which believe that witches and wizards are real, and that they are most definitely dangerous.
As you watch, you wonder how all this can be connected. The beasts within the ever so expanding briefcase as well as curious Credence boy- and we can’t forget about Grindelwald. Who exactly is he and why is he here?
We have come to understand that somehow all these loose ends ties in with each other, but how? As you watch, some things become clear, others don’t. The film itself is rather long, possibly too long- some scenes could most definitely be shorter, or non-existent. But there are a few, the few which are so breathtakingly beautiful that you forget that you are sitting in the cinema and think that you are really there. You are inside Newt’s briefcase and into the magical world itself.
All the beasts come out to play, some, slightly terrifying and others were simply magnificent. You couldn’t believe that such beauty would exist until you saw these creatures for the very first time.
As you unwind in you chairs and think at how this film could possibly end, surprises start to hit you round every corner. Sudden reappearances and shocking emotions makes the hairs stand up on your arms. You simply would not have seen that coming- no sir.
We cannot wait for the next installment, whatever that might consist of. The music with fabulous- each note made your heart skip a beat, and if you listen just carefully, it almost reminds you of a certain film franchise. However, the film was magical through and through.
After a frantic year of superhero movies (Captain America: Civil War, Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice and X-Men: Apocalypse), an antihero film is just what we all need a taste of. After months and months of waiting patiently for the release of Suicide Squad, it has had a very diverse effect on those who watched it. Some say it was unsatisfactory and a frantic mess, but others like myself, found the film to be quirky, full of excitement and at times, quite emotional.
Based on the aftermath of what happened in Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, a plan is set in motion by the government to put together a team of the deadliest ‘bad guys’ in the world. When Midway City turns into the catalyst of a plot to exterminate the entire human race, the new enforced Task Force X must come together and become something they never thought to be: Heroes.
It is quite rare to see a superhero film solely based on its villains, which is a refreshing twist on the everyday normality of what a hero actually is. What we have to remember is that director and writer, David Ayer has created this film and adapted it for the big screen just from the original DC comic books. This was never going to be an easy job, especially trying to shape itself to fit within the contents of one film.
The film starts off quite slow, but however I found it quite intriguing (spoiler alert) when Viola Davis’ character government agent Amanda Waller, individually goes through each of the ‘squads’ members, who they are and what makes them so dangerous. It’s like going through a very lousy Tinder profile, one by one.
There are moments through the film where it is just pure darkness. The screen is just so black that you can’t really see what on earth is going on. After a short time reliving the dark ages, BOOM, the bright lucid lights appear and you might question have I just witnessed a strange occurrence in the middle of the cinema. The atmosphere throughout is pure anarchy, deadly weapons being thrown about like they were toys, and do not even get me started on the mayhem and the death toll that followed it.
Jared Leto’s The Joker and Cara Delevingne’s Enchantress actually have very little screen time compared to their fellow villains, which was quite disappointing. Yes we all know who The Joker is (and have had several discussions about who plays the better version, is it Ledger, Nicholson or even the newly brave Leto?), and we are somewhat aware of the captivating yet absolutely batshit crazy Harley Quinn, but the others we know nothing about. So who are these mysterious characters?
Floyd Lawton AKA Deadshot, “the most wanted hitman in the world”, is played by none other than Mr Will Smith, who immediately just makes you crack a smile every time he comes onto the screen. You’ll almost love him just for his sass and mischievous banter, forgetting the fact that he’s a paid assassin.
Then there’s Dr Harleen Quintal, the former psychiatrist turned psychopath Harley Quinn. She is played by the gorgeous Aussie Margot Robbie, who is also weirdly enough the love interest to the man, who we never thought would know how to love, The Joker.
We then have the others, Cap’ Boomerang (played by Jai Courtney) who I don’t quite get. Where did he come from, and why is he even here? He just seems to enjoy throwing his boomerang around all the damn time and trying to play it cool.
Tatsu Yamashiro, also known as Katana (played by Karen Fukuhara) is a late bloomer. We know nothing about her until a far distance into the film. It turns out she’s an acquaintance of Ms Waller with the same agenda as the government. She also comes with an added bonus- a samurai sword with the trapped soul of her late husband. Spooky.
Then we have Waylon Jones, also known simply as Killer Croc (played by Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje). He is virtually half man half crocodile who lives in the water or id very damp conditions. Don’t grow too fond of him, not until the very end anyway- He has a few humorous lines, but other than that he is pretty much only there to make the group look more avant garde.
Next we have The Flash himself… actually not quite. His name is Chato Santana aka El Diablo (played by Jay Hernandez). He is the only man who refused to take part in any violence, and wanted to live out his prison sentence in peace and tranquility. He was the lone wolf. As you can tell by the name given, he controls fire and boy does he light up our screens alright.
The last two come as a pair, Dr. June Moone (played by Cara Delevingne) and Col. Rick Flag (played by Joel Kinnaman). This couple could be Romeo and Juliet in a parallel universe. The tragedy that follows them is simply horrendous. Dr. Moone one day, whilst discovering some ancient caves, she was possessed by some sort of God. She is known as Enchantress, and she (from time to time) takes of the Doctors body. It is like a personality disorder to the extreme.
Now she may not be part of the squad itself, but Amanda Waller has got some balls. She does not give a shit, she knows what she wants and doesn’t let anyone or anything stand in her way-she simply holds her own. As Deadshot puts it “that is one mean lady”.
The main plot was rather unimpressive and did not meet expectations. I did not hate it but I purely loved it for its soundtrack, comedy moments and the sex appeal of both Miss Harley Quinn & The Joker.
The film is not as badass as we thought, but no doubt the best thing about this film is the portrayal of Harley Quinn by the uniquely talented Margot Robbie and Will Smith’s Deadshot. Their fine acting skills, along with their individual versatile personalities makes them pretty much the only ones worth watching. However, I always say to never base all your thoughts on what the critics might say, you might lose out on a film you might just grow to love, in the end.