REVIEW: E T A (2018)

Directed by: Talia Shea Levin

WRITTEN BY JESSICA PEÑA

Talia Shea Levin’s latest project E T A celebrates community and identity as one woman (Alexis Floyd) combats the need to isolate herself at a bus stop and instead begins to reach out to those around her. Through song and dance, the short video creates an all too real narrative of feeling alone in a crowded space, not feeling like you’re enough for the mold society creates, and even that lingering self doubt. Like breaking the glass ceiling of social confines, our leading gal opens herself up to the community, segueing into a gracefully choreographed dance that represents the power and potential of individuality, and even the strength of women working together.  

This is the second dance narrative film collaboration between Levin and Floyd, having teamed up previously on an unofficial music video project for Alabama Shakes’ song “Gimme All Your Love,” a video that’s garnered over 36 thousand views on Vimeo. Alexis Floyd, who’s so masterful at inviting the camera to her choreography, is full of life and wonder in her performance work. Here in Levin’s non-traditional short, performance art takes soul by the hand and guides us to a divine sense of belonging, to yourself and to the little parts that make you who you are. The rich choreography, combined with facets of film and even an originally composed song (“Enough,” by performer/actress Alexis Floyd), creates a blossoming turn of events for Floyd’s character, a woman who is fighting the urge to remain isolated and instead uses that energy to invite positivity.

E T A’s supporting cast of dancers fill the room, twirling, leaping, and welcoming the change of pace. The community that forms onscreen and in our hearts is both a testament to Levin’s narrative guidance and Floyd’s charismatic, felt performance. It makes a viewer reach within themselves and take flight. The result is a self-satisfaction like nothing else, reminding us that we can take the simplest of risks and be heard, something that may otherwise seem insurmountable to some. When we decide to open our hearts and battle isolation and choose a collective support system, miraculous things can happen. What’s communicated in Levin’s project is reinvigorating. It’s a collaborative ensemble of dancers, musicians, and filmmakers all coming together to create. Much like its production, the finished product is a unique collection, merging dance, sound, and film for big causes. It marches on like a creative protest against division and even doubt, the veiled force against us all.    

E T A is a form of unity, confidence, and empowerment. Talia Shea Levin embraces many arts to tell us a condensed moment of time we all come to grips with and it works on the soul. Wonderfully edited and paced, the short bounces off the screen and interacts with you, as lush as its message. Not only will its original track have you humming all day, but it’s a constant reminder to never sell yourself short or doubt your worth, and that’s a message art can never ignore.

Jessica’s Verdict

4

You can find out more about the film, and watch it, here

REVIEW: Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (2018)

Year: 2018
Directed by: David Yates
Starring: Eddie Redmayne, Johnny Depp, Ezra Miller, Katherine Waterston, Jude Law, Carmen Ejogo, Zoë Kravitz, Callum Turner, Dan Fogler, Alison Sudol

Written by Fiona Underhill

Unfortunately, before you can start talking about this film, there is so much that has to be discussed.

Firstly: Johnny Depp. I wrestled with even going to see this film, knowing that Depp would be in it. I’m pretty disgusted at the attitude of JK Rowling, The Davids – Heyman and Yates and Warner Brothers over Depp and I HATE that he casts a pall over what is probably my favourite film franchise. It is especially frustrating that in a world with polyjuice potions and metamorphmagus and setting the precedent of both Colin Farrell and Jamie Campbell Bower playing versions of the character, Depp could have been easily replaced and still could be. I would love to see the filmmakers finally do the right thing here. It is only because I am SO invested in this world that I went ahead and watched this film anyway. I struggled with this decision, I’m not proud of it and I fully understand people boycotting this film because of Depp. When watching and reviewing, I have tried to focus on the film around him and ignore him as much as possible.

Secondly: Rowling’s revisionism and queer-baiting. I am a HUGE Harry Potter fangirl but I and many of my fellow Potterheads are sick of Rowling coming out and saying “oh, by the way, Dumbledore was gay” or “Hermione could have been black” and trying to get points for diversity which were not apparent in the books or first films. The Cursed Child featured two teenage boys who were clearly in love with one another, but Rowling has rightly come under fire for queer-baiting because she won’t go the whole hog and make it explicit. Now that the Fantastic Beasts films have chosen to focus on young Dumbledore’s relationship with Grindelwald, Rowling should be forced to follow through with the statements she has been teasing. The extent to which The Crimes of Grindelwald does this, I will explore later in this review.

So, onto the film. I’m one of the few people who loved the first Fantastic Beasts film. Yes, it was packed with far too much plot, but the setting of 1920s New York was to die for, it had a really strong cast and stunning costume and production design (I still think about Colin Farrell’s haircut and coat all the time). One of the strongest aspects of the first film was Ezra Miller as Credence (a really compelling role and one which could be seen as a metaphor for being LGBTQ while growing up in a religious home and also for trying to live with and hide a mental illness). Credence’s scenes with Colin Farrell were electric, as Graves/Grindy took advantage of this broken, vulnerable young man who was desperate for love and a sense of belonging and set about grooming and manipulating him. I had been skeptical about Farrell’s casting beforehand, but he blew me away (yet another reason to be so angry about Depp). Samantha Morton was also reliably amazing. The world-building of Fantastic Beasts was so good, with Newt’s suitcase being the highlight. I’m not particularly a fan of Eddie Redmayne (especially when he seems to have filled his performance of Newt with tics left over from playing Stephen Hawking) or Katherine Waterston, but the supporting characters of Jacob and Queenie were amiable enough to provide enough hope for the sequels. I do like that Newt’s character is so sympathetic and caring to those who most of the world view as monsters, freaks or aliens and see them to be feared and controlled. When I heard that Miller would be returning for The Crimes of Grindelwald and that Jude Law would be young Dumbledore, I allowed myself to get excited. Add in Zoe Kravitz and Callum Turner and the cast just got extremely hot. I was just hoping that Depp would not overshadow all of the positive aspects.

The Crimes of Grindelwald moves from New York to Paris and continues the trend of being visually breath-taking. Even in ‘normal’ apartments, the attention to detail in the production design is astounding – there is just so much to take in from every corner of the frame. Even something as simple as Credence and Nagini entering an apartment via a corridor is shot and framed and designed so beautifully – the corridor lined with windows and the apartment hung with lace. The bigger set-pieces, such as the circus scene brought tears to my eyes – the thought of a magic circus, filled with fantastic beasts in the Potter universe is just so tantalising (a bit like the speakeasy nightclub scene in the first Fantastic Beasts). The costumes again are so appealing, with Kravitz’s Leta Lestrange purple outfit and Queenie’s pink shoes being particular highlights. The design of the ministries – in New York, London and Paris each have their own flavour – I never tire of seeing the green ‘London Underground’ style tiles in the British ministry. The use of a green copper statue which comes to life and shows the way into the magical world of Paris is ingenious. Being basked in the Potter universe and submerged in the sumptuous visuals is so enjoyable (for me, anyway), it makes up for a lot.

I have heard a lot of grumbling about the characters in the two Fantastic Beasts films and that no one cares about them. Yes, Redmayne is annoying, but Newt is a worthy central character to hang this franchise on. His morality is very much in keeping with the original series, he is loyal and values his friends (even if others don’t – like Neville, Luna and in the case of Fantastic Beasts; Jacob) just like Harry did. He is a protector of the downtrodden, the outcasts and there is a lot to be said for that. The new additions in this film (ignoring Depp for a moment) were successful. Law absolutely nails Dumbledore (with just the subtlest hint of an Irish lilt, as a nod to Harris) and this film does not shy away from the fact that he is morally grey, manipulative and is definitely that bitch. Leta Lestrange gets an interesting backstory and character arc and is played by the beautiful Kravitz to perfection – her English accent is a treat for the ears. Callum Turner is perfectly cast as Theseus Scamander (his physical resemblance to Redmayne is uncanny), however, the decision to make the younger Turner Newt’s older brother is perhaps unnecessary – the rivalry between the brothers may have actually worked better if Theseus was younger. I look forward to seeing where his character goes in future films. Nagini (Claudia Kim) has been a controversial character (yet another revision by Rowling) but I liked her relationship with Credence and also that her character was perhaps on an unexpected side – again, I look forward to seeing where her arc goes in the future. Nicholas Flamel was a welcome and humorous addition and this provided my favourite cameo – Jessica Williams in one of Flamel’s books. Jacob and Queenie’s characters and relationship certainly go in an unexpected direction in this film, not everyone is going to be a fan of this, but I thought it was interesting and means both characters will have plenty to do in the subsequent films. They are both fully invested and involved in this war and will not just be the light-hearted or comedic sideshow act they were in the first film.

Now we come to the plot and writing, which as with the first film, are going to be the most flawed aspects. I sincerely wish that, as she did with The Cursed Child, Rowling would give the writing reigns over to someone else on this franchise. I have heard the complaint that this film has “no plot”, but the problem is actually the opposite – it has far too much going on, as did the first film. By far the most glaringly negative aspect of The Crimes of Grindelwald for me was that in the second half of the film, the editing goes absolutely haywire as it tries to keep up with the plot. In a world in which characters can already apparate to new places in a split second, the editing makes characters just suddenly appear in new locations with no coherence. However, although plot-holes abound (once you start examining events too closely), there is a lot to enjoy here. The events return to Hogwarts and if you don’t get emotional hearing that music during the establishing shots, you must have a heart of stone. Seeing Dumbledore in Lupin’s role of Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher, schooling students on patronuses using boggarts is wonderful. The actors who play young Newt and Leta are exceptional – Joshua Shea (young Newt) has obviously studied Redmayne’s mannerisms in detail, because his portrayal is completely convincing. There are several spectacular set-pieces; the afore-mentioned circus scene and a scene at the French ministry involving moving towers of records and black cat protectors were particular highlights. Newt’s basement takes over from his suitcase as a land of magic and wonders – the new beasts in this film are glorious – including a kelpie, a Chinese dragon and an expanded roster of Nifflers. This film did lean into Newt being in love with Tina a lot more than I was expecting, which was not really needed. I found the Newt, Theseus and Leta love-triangle more compelling, although it did echo the Snape, Lily and James one a bit uncomfortably.

As for Dumbledore and Grindelwald – this film did address their (ahem) ‘relationship’ more than I thought it would. There are many strong hints that they were in love – Dumbledore sees his young self with Grindelwald in The Mirror Of Erised, they share a blood bond, they were “closer than brothers” – however, all of this will prove meaningless and empty if it isn’t directly and explicitly addressed in future films. I and many others are getting increasingly angry and frustrated at all of these teases (as I said, they were there in The Cursed Child as well), in this day and age you should be able to show a homosexual relationship in any kind of film – even YA, fantasy, family and/or blockbuster films. These films do not shy away from showing heterosexual crushes amongst teens and using heterosexual love as major motivating factors for characters’ decisions. It is absolutely in keeping with the Potterverse that Dumbledore and Grindelwald loving one another would provide complications in their rivalry and it is good and interesting, but these half-hearted hints are not enough and not acceptable. Do better JK and Warner Brothers.

So, an extremely mixed bag, but for me, the good outweighed the bad. Two hours spent in the Potter universe is always going to be preferable to just about anything else I could be doing. The visuals are overwhelmingly stunning, so many of my personal boxes are ticked by setting Potter in the 1920s, it is always going to be a good time for me. I completely understand some people’s frustrations with these Fantastic Beasts films and I entirely appreciate why many people are done with Rowling. I understand people being against these films because of Depp or because of how sexuality is potentially being mishandled, however, for me, the plot and the characters, for the large part, are successful. I am invested enough in these characters (new and old) to want to see where it’s going. I desperately hope that certain decisions are made (recasting Depp, allowing Dumbledore and Grindelwald to be fully gay) to make me feel not so uncomfortable about defending these films. Rowling has certainly made many decisions that are indefensible and she deserves to be called out on them unreservedly. But I cannot help but be succumbed by the positive aspects eg. making Newt and Credence complex metaphors for much of what is going on in the world right now, which shows what Rowling can get right. And Law’s Dumbledore was SO good, I want to see him again. I just hope that this franchise goes in a positive direction.

FIONA’S RATING:

3-5

REVIEW: Shadow of a Gun (2018)

Year: 2018
Directed by: Micah Van Hove
Starring: Dominic Pino, Jacob King, Brett Baxter

Written by Jessica Peña

Micah Van Hove’s latest film Shadow of a Gun is a harrowing and meticulous slice of work that closes in on America’s gun culture, but more significantly on its psychological effects. Tom is a firearm hobbyist, responsible and collected. He works part-time at a music store where he’s exceptionally good at. He has a girlfriend (Brett Baxter) and his life seems to be pretty fulfillingly average until his neighbor Jason (Jacob King) stops by after a run. He sees Tom working on a gun and speculates the object’s construction. What at first looks like a BB gun to Jason becomes a growing infatuation with firearms and the power that comes with it. He’s soon very game to building an AR-10 rifle with the help of Tom, forming a peculiar friendship.

In the United States’ current climate, firearms are always on the table of discussion. The spectrum of gun ownership seems to be one extreme to another; those that are sensible enthusiasts who admire the mechanisms of guns and those that use its power as an overt weaponry against society. What the film explores in that respect is the growth of toxic masculinity that may come to wield it, and what that means in contrast to responsible, civil collectors. Have this narrative rested in the midst of a growing friendship between two males and you get the explicitly relevant Shadow of a Gun. Tucked beneath Jason’s privileged, upper-class surface is a manic, discovered person who wants to rattle the world with no regard to consequences. Doing drugs and going to parties in gas masks is only the beginning of his downward spiral. Against Tom’s level-headed character, Jason ventures into grim fascinations of terrorism, hidden from his friend and only manifested in solitude by way of his home vlogs.

Van Hove’s film is a patient wait toward the inevitable. In its climax it still manages to tell more about our antagonist’s pursuits. It’s not always predictable and Van Hove’s script, developed by Jeffrey Reeser, alongside Pino and King, is an electrifying meditation on these social effects. It’s hard to tell how the crystallization of Jason, played exceptionally well by Jacob King, has fully affected the lives of those around him, but the clearcut urgency of his actions are what bring the story full circle and cement its relevance. At a moment’s notice, cause and effect play their hands and take control. This goes for both Jason and Tom, seeing as their sudden camaraderie changes their lives. Tom’s work tardiness begins, his health is at risk, he continues to smoke excessively (among dabbling in drugs with Jason), and his relationship with Alexa suffers a bit. As separate as their lives may be in class scope, this partnership has become the catalyst of decline.

Shadow of a Gun is a distressing call to empathy. One that is nested in self-chaos and unravelment. In our interview with director Micah Van Hove, he expresses one part of the film’s conception as dealing with “young men with problems of identity, not fully understanding where they fit in the world…” It’s within King’s character where we begin to ask ourselves about the polarizing subject matter and how empathy plays its role here, even when it’s juggling Tom’s hobby and how it’s been normalized to masquerade it as evil. Wherever you stand on such issues, Van Hove’s film is enthralling and burning to the mind, one that you’ll want to dissect with others.

JESSICA’S VERDICT:

4

The Killing Of A Sacred Deer: A Twisted Contemporary Greek Tragedy

Written by Emily Jones

Known as one of 2017’s strangest movies, The Killing Of A Sacred Deer is a psychological thriller directed by famed director Yorgos Lanthimos. Known for his stilted characters featuring robotic deliveries, Lanthomo’s latest movie, in fact, features a series of transactional relationships and conversations between characters which emphasize its peculiarity. Starring Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman, Barry Keoghan, Raffey Cassidy, Sunny Suljic, Alicia Silverstone and Bill Camp, The Killing Of A Sacred Deer is a surreal movie experience that effortlessly defies any rational explanations right from its beginning. Recently released, the movie is currently available for viewing on the Chili website.

The movie is based on the Greek story of Agamemnon, king of Mycenae who paid the terrible price his family must pay once it is discovered that he killed a deer, precious to the goddess Artemis. As payment for his killing, Artemis demands that Agamemnon sacrifice one of his children, either his daughter Iphigenia or son Orestes, in her honor. The Killing Of A Sacred Deer portrays this Greek tragedy in Cincinnati, where heart surgeon Steven (Colin Farrell) is confronted by Martin (Barry Keoghan) who lost his father during one of Steven’s surgeries. A few years after his father’s passing and now a teenager, Martin seeks revenge and issues a chilling ultimatum. He threatens that Steven must choose one of his family members to die so that he can amend Martin’s father’s death. If Steven refuses to do so, each of his family members will suddenly diefrom a mysterious illness. Steven must, therefore, make a decision as his family members are already falling in, and in doing so his family’s craven, self-centered and brutal cores are revealed.

While this movie features little blood, very few scenes of violence and a courteous and gentle villain, The Killing Of A Sacred Deer still manages to be completely and viscerally terrifying. The movie greatly focuses on a person’s sense of responsibility and the great lengths they may go about to try not being held accountable for their mistakes. It focuses on how a person’s actions and decisions contribute to where they find themselves in life and the cowardly sense of protecting their self and their self-image. While Steven refuses to accept Martin’s ultimatum and while his family falls ill, he continues to search for an alternate solution, denying what is happening around him. What makes the movie particularly strange and disturbing is also the interactions between Stevens family members. The Murphy family dynamics are mostly a series of transactions and exchanges. Bob and Kim have assigned chores, and almost all of their interactions with their parents have to do with whether or not they’ve done them and Kim (Nicole Kidman) learns her brother is in the hospital when she told she’ll have to now water his plants. Transactions are in fact what dominate the entire storyline, for the death of one of his family members, Martin demands the death of one of Steven’s.

With its peculiar characters, an interesting and somewhat historic storyline The Killing Of A Sacred Deer should certainly be among the list of must-see movies of the year. This psychological thriller explores the depths of family interactions and the toll the burden of responsibility can take on a person.

CAMFF 2018: Lemonade (2018)

Year: 2018
Directed by: Ioana Uricaru
Starring: Mãlina Manovici, Dylan Smith, Milan Hurduc

Written by Elena Morgan

Mara (Mãlina Manovici) is a young Romanian woman working in America when she meets and marries Daniel (Dylan Smith). After she brings her nine-year-old son Dragos (Milan Hurduc) to America, things are looking good for her new family until she encounters problems when applying for a Green Card.

Lemonade opens with Mara and Daniel being interviewed by the US immigration authorities, including immigration officer Moji (Steve Bacic), who seems kind to begin with, but he has a cruel misogynistic streak and he’s happy to exploit those desperate enough. It’s through the conversations between these characters that you slowly start to piece together their story, how Mara and Daniel met and if their marriage was just a way for Mara to stay in America. Lemonade paints the immigration process as something that’s incredibly difficult and often dehumanising to those who go through it. With the problems Mara encounters it’s clear that this hardship is worth it to her and that living in America would give her and her son more prospects than in her homeland.

It’s unfortunate that Mara’s naivety almost stretches the credibility of her story. The decisions she makes are in part fuelled by her desperation to stay in America, and in part due to her being an honest person who’s still learning the way America’s rules and regulations work. She believes in America to be different but she soon finds that the men in power can be just as corrupt and dangerous as in any other country.

Manovici gives a fine performance but it’s a shame that Mara is such an inconsistent character. She’s mostly naïve but there’s the odd moment when she gets some steely determination as she tries to overcome the many obstacles that are put in her path. Those moments are short-lived and she’s soon back to being ignorant of the world at large.

Lemonade is a topical yet bleak film about immigration but with some characters actions and reactions being so inconsistent and full of naiveté, it makes the whole venture feel less believable and even more depressing.

ELENA’S VERDICT:

2

 

CAMFF 2018: Júlia ist (2017)

Year: 2017 
Directed by: Elena Martin 
Starring: Elena Martin, Oriol Puig, Jakob D’Aprile

Written by Elena Morgan

Júlia (Elena Martin) is an architecture student from Catalan who is set to go to study in Berlin for a year thanks to an Erasmus programme. Once she’s there she’s completely alone for the first time in her life, the distance from home puts a strain on her relationship with her boyfriend (Oriol Puig) and slowly she starts to make friends with fellow students and learn more about this new city.

Júlia ist is Elena Martin’s directorial debut and she co-wrote the film as well as playing the lead. She embodies Júlia so completely as someone that’s desperate to become her own, independent person but is also wary of making that leap.

So many people can relate to the uncertainty Júlia feels when she moves to a new place. Whether you’ve been away from home to go to university, or generally moved to another part of your own country or to a completely new country for whatever reason, everyone’s felt alone or isolated at some point.

Júlia ist is a great study of student life. There’s the drama or open relationships when feelings get involved, long-distance relationships, making friends, living with people, and making sure you balance having fun and doing well in your studies. It’s such a well-written take on student life that it feels like you’re reliving your university day if you had them, and even if you didn’t, the characters are so natural you can easily put yourself in their shoes.

Júlia ist is understated but no less engaging. It’s a simple story about messy relationships, culture shock and finding one’s place. There are no big revelations or huge dramatics, instead, it’s a quiet film about a woman who’s just trying to figure out who she is.

ELENA’S VERDICT:

3

CAMFF 2018: Burning (2018)

Year: 2018
Directed by: Chang-dong Lee
Starring: Ah-In Yoo, Steven Yeun, Jong-seo Jeon

Written by Elena Morgan

When Hae-mi (Jong-seo Jeon) goes to Africa she asks her old schoolmate Jong-su (Ah-In Yoo) to look after her cat. When she returns with enigmatic Ben (Steven Yeun) who she met in Africa, Jong-su is dismayed and feels pushed out by the two of them.

Burning is a slow-burn of a film about class and sexual desire. Jong-su and Hae-mi are both originally from the north of South Korea, from a farming town that’s so close to the border that they can hear propaganda announcements from North Korea. Ben, on the other hand, is a Gatsby-like character, he’s young and rich and no one – Jong-su especially – knows what he does to earn his money. He’s charming and mysterious and lives in a modern apartment in Seoul and appears to have the perfect life compared to Jong-su.

Burning follows Jong-su’s perspective and he isn’t a particularly likeable character. He’s quiet and reserved and, as the film progresses, it reveals to be more or a character-study of Jong-su than anything else. Burning is full of unexpected choices, evolving from a potential love triangle into a psychological mystery, with three characters that are equal parts captivating and cold.

The scenery at Jong-su’s home is bleak yet beautiful. Conversations with double meanings happen at sunset with haunting music playing that leaves both Jong-su and the viewers unsettled by what they’re experiencing. As everything begins to build, Jong-su becomes more obsessed with both Hae-mi and Ben, two characters who aren’t altogether what they seem. There are secrets and lies, and the mystery becomes more and more mesmerising.

Burning is a weird, unsettling film anchored by a subtle yet absorbing performance by Ah-In Yoo. Its 2 and a half hour runtime can be noticeable though, as it certainly takes it’s time to slowly rack up the tension, but the performances from the three main actors are all brilliant and it’s their little nuances that pull you in and make this film so mesmerising.

ELENA’S VERDICT:
4

Dispatches from LA Comic Con 2018

Written by Fiona Underhill

I went to some really interesting panels at LA Comic Con, covering a wide range of topics, all of which were supremely geeky, so therefore right up my street. I really noticed this year (after last attending the Con in 2016), that every single panel made reference to politics and the wider society which we live in. The zombie panel talked about their function throughout history and whether we still ‘need’ them today, the Superman panel was about how he is a symbol of hope, the Harry Potter panel was about using that universe as therapy, which is something I can very much relate to. Of course, the #MeToo movement was also referenced many times as well. So, it was a surprisingly emotional weekend!

Women in Horror Esther Goodstein, Kathleen Behun, Jessica Sonneborn, Jessica Cameron, Ivet Corvea
Jason Blum has recently come under fire for stating that; “There are not a lot of female directors period, and even less who are inclined to do horror.” Of course the women of this panel were very much here to refute that.
– Sonneborn and Corvea were in Bloody Bloody Bible Camp (2012)
– Sonneborn has Holidays of Horror coming up – an anthology series, each based on a different American holiday eg. Thanksgiving, 4th of July, Hanukkah
– Behun has The Maple House coming up
– Goodstein produced The Black Room (2017, now available on Netflix)
– Cameron directed An Ending (2018) and Mania (2015)

 

I am no Man: The Women of Middle-Earth TheOneRing.net
The focus of this panel was to highlight the lesser-known women of Middle Earth, who could be a large part of the new LOTR TV show which will be coming to Amazon, which will reportedly focus on a young Aragorn, at least to begin with. The hope is that it could feature Gilraen, Aragorn’s mother who was a widow who went to great lengths to protect her son. It could also feature Arwen’s mother Celebrian, to whom Elrond had to prove his worth by becoming a ring-bearer and building Rivendell. Following in the tradition of formidable mothers, Bilbo was said to have got his sense of adventure from his mother, Belladonna Took.

Another prominent female character is Luthien, who not only subverts the ‘damsel-in-distress’ trope by being a self-rescuing ‘princess’, but she also rescues the man she loves. Lúthien forced Sauron to give ownership of the tower to her. She freed the prisoners, among them Beren. She also heals Beren and sings a song which subdues the Dark Lord Morgoth. Tolkein and his wife Edith have the words ‘Beren and Luthien’ on their joint grave, indicating that Tolkein believed his wife ‘rescued’ him. There is also Varda Elbereth who ‘kindled the stars’ (created the universe) and Yavanna The Valar – who is a ‘Mother Earth’ type figure.

 

Superman 80th Anniversary Panel Tony Kim, Jason Inman, Jace Milam and Alfred Day
This was the best panel of the weekend for me. Despite unfortunately being an all-male panel, there was a lot of emphasis on Lois and the fact that it’s her 80th Anniversary too. There was love for The New Adventures of Superman (known as Lois & Clark in the US) which is my favourite Superman property and Superman – The Animated Series, which is underrated. There was discussion of where DC has/is going wrong with Superman and where it could potentially go in the future, all of which I strongly agreed with. I even got a bit emotional when the panel was talking about what Superman should symbolise “truth, justice and the American way” and the fact that these values have lost their meaning in larger society, not just in popular culture. Superman is meant to be inspiring, is meant to be the best reflection of ourselves – he believes in us even when we don’t believe in him. Wonder Woman got it right by creating a hopeful, likeable character who still had humour and was still cool. Why can’t that happen with Supes?

 

Star Thieves – check out the trailer on insta @StarThieves
I can across this completely by accident, but I’m glad that I did. It’s a 20 minute short Sci-Fi film featuring a cast completely made up of people of colour. It is going to be turned into a feature length film – so keep an eye out for that.

 

Other panels which I attended:
Everything you wanted to know about zombies but were afraid to askClarke Wolfe etc
The Psychology of Harry Potter
The Original Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling (GLOW)
Batman 80th Anniversary Panel Kyle Higgins and Chris Burnham
Wonder Women Filmmakers: Insight from Women in the World of Filmmaking – Jenn Page, Joanna Ke, Cheri Gaulke, Sonja Mereu, Emily McGregor, Allison Vanore, America Young
The Chimaera Project http://www.chimaeraproject.org

REVIEW: Overlord (2018)

Directed by: Julius Avery
Cast: Wyatt Russell, Pilou Asbæk, John Magaro

Written by Lucy Buglass

As someone who isn’t much of a war film fan, I was apprehensive about Overlord. I often find war films quite repetitive in nature, and they’ve never really appealed to me. So when I was kindly invited to a press screening on behalf of JUMPCUT, I really wasn’t sure what to expect. I tried not to set my expectations too high, but as a J.J. Abrams fan, I was interested to see what he’d brought to the table as a producer. Maybe a blend of war and horror is exactly what I needed.

Straight away, the thing that stood out to me was the quality of the sound, especially in a cinema setting. If you’re able to, I would absolutely recommend you catch Overlord on the big screen because of it. The film opens with soldiers on a plane, and the deafening booms of bombs combined with the roar of the plane really puts you right in the middle of the action. This sequence is one of the most immersive experiences I’ve ever had. You’re forced to witness the horrors of war straight off the bat and identify with the soldiers’ point of view. Later on in the film, this excellent use of sound really adds to the suspense and makes for a truly uncomfortable experience.

After loving Wyatt Russell in Black Mirror, I was looking forward to his performance in particular, but the whole cast really delivered. Each solider is believable, flawed, and different in their personality to the point where you feel like you’re there with them. The character development throughout is excellent, and no one feels two-dimensional or glossed over. This is one of the problems I have with war films, that sometimes everyone seems to blend into one group and no one is easily distinguishable. With Overlord, every character has both purpose and a personality; something I thoroughly enjoyed. The characters that the soldiers encounter along the way are treated exactly the same too, and it’s nice to see secondary characters being treated with respect.

If you’re a fan of gory special effects, this is one to watch for sure. When it finally becomes clear to us what’s going on, and dark secrets are revealed, it is a terrifying experience. It’s best you go into it not knowing any more than that, as it would be a shame to have it spoiled. What I can say, is that the effects are nightmare inducing and reminiscent of many body horror films. The rest you need to witness for yourself. I’ve seen my fair share of gruesome stuff, but this really stood out to me. Overlord deserves recognition for its visual effects alone, they are a welcome addition to the horror genre.

Overall, Overlord is a smart film that blends war and horror together effortlessly, resulting in a truly terrifying experience. I’m unsure how it’ll translate on my TV after experiencing it on such a large-scale, but I am certainly up for watching it again to see what it’s like. It’s a very entertaining couple of hours that are action-packed and gruesome throughout.

 

Lucy’s Verdict

3-5