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.

Disney Release Heartbreaking New ‘Dumbo’ Trailer

“From Disney and visionary director Tim Burton, the all-new grand live-action adventure ‘Dumbo’ expands on the beloved classic story where differences are celebrated, family is cherished and dreams take flight. Circus owner Max Medici (Danny DeVito) enlists former star Holt Farrier (Colin Farrell) and his children Milly (Nico Parker) and Joe (Finley Hobbins) to care for a newborn elephant whose oversized ears make him a laughingstock in an already struggling circus. But when they discover that Dumbo can fly, the circus makes an incredible comeback, attracting persuasive entrepreneur V.A. Vandevere (Michael Keaton), who recruits the peculiar pachyderm for his newest, larger-than-life entertainment venture, Dreamland. Dumbo soars to new heights alongside a charming and spectacular aerial artist, Colette Marchant (Eva Green), until Holt learns that beneath its shiny veneer, Dreamland is full of dark secrets.”

Directed by: Tim Burton

Cast: Danny DeVito, Colin Farrell, Nico Parker, Finley Hobbins, Michael Keaton, Eva Green

Release Date: March 29th, 2019

Watch This Space #5

Another weekend arrives and you’re looking for a new pick to stream at home. We’ve got you covered. The JUMPCUT team have selected a new batch of recommendations for you. Below you’ll find some classic films you never knew were hiding just under your streaming radars, some hit comedy finds, and more!

Falling Down (Joel Schumacher, 1993)

Amazon Prime

Before Joel Schumacher lost his way and camped up the Batman franchise to high heavens, his portfolio forms a fanfare collection of big hits; one in particular, 80s supermovie The Lost Boys.

Two years before his caped crusader debut, he made Falling Down, a scorchingly violent satire with a wit intelligently woven with chaos. The film follows Michael Douglas’ everyman who, on a tiringly hot day, lashes out against those in society who he believes to be America’s downfall. Commercially, the movie succeeds as a no-holds-barred revenge actioner, but the observations on the world’s relentlessly capitalist nature bury the events deeper than superficial enjoyment.

Schumacher enjoys both broad strokes in attacking consumerism, such as a famed scene in a fast food joint, but also takes sly digs through glances at posters and billboards – in a landscape so focused on money it may as well be covered in green, Douglas spills his red justice onto the grass. His character is portrayed as both a hero and villain, which although leaves a sour taste as we’re expected to root for him through his warped journey, adds to the twisted plight of the tale.

Cameron Frew

 

Ex Machina (Alex Garland, 2015)

Netflix

If you’re still reeling back from Annihilation earlier this year, maybe you’d like to sink your eyes into more cerebral ideas of human nature. Garland’s 2005 thriller/drama Ex Machina stars Domhnall Gleeson as Caleb, a programmer who wins a week-long trip at his CEO’s (Oscar Isaac) estate to interact with Nathan’s new, peculiar AI named Ava (Alicia Vikander). Ava is a magnificent achievement of tech that Caleb can’t help but be overwhelmed by. He wants to study her but soon realizes that maybe Nathan is using both of them for unethical, greedy schemes. The futuristic setting of the film tames the claustrophobic themes of human examination, existentialism, and razor-sharp disillusionment. Vikander and Gleeson are phenomenal, as always, and pull you into Caleb and Ava’s wonderful, interesting, but strange relationship under the scope. Garland’s directorial debut (if we are ignoring his pointed direction in Dredd) is patient and eerie as we await its next move, and it’s a constant, clever spectacle.

Jessica Peña

Loving Vincent (Hugh Welchman, Dorota Kobiela, 2017)

Netflix

After a criminally limited release last year, Loving Vincent is available on Netflix and I can’t recommend it enough. Loving Vincent is the world’s first fully painted feature film and is comprised of over 65,000 frames on over 1,000 canvases and was a labour of love for over 100 painters for four years – and my god was their hard work and determination worth it. The film is one of the most beautiful films I’ve had the pleasure of watching, and the accompanying score is just as delightful. Do yourself a favour and put some time aside this weekend to watch it! You can also read my full review from last year right here.

Tom Sheffield

 

In Bruges (Martin McDonagh, 2008)

Netflix

Martin McDonagh’s dark comedy follows hitmen Ray (Colin Farrell) and Ken (Brendan Gleeson) as they lay low in Bruges, Belgium after a botched job has their boss (Ralph Fiennes) keeping close tabs on them. Ray is quite reluctant to engage in sightseeing and tourist-y ventures Ken wishes to schedule during their mini career hiatus, Bruges being the last place on Earth he can even stomach to reside in. It’s a hasty film that wastes no moment to downplay its class in exchange for remote absurdities and crude unravelments. It’s Farrell at his most ridiculous, and Gleeson as the perfect sweetener to balance it. It’s weeping thriller bits mixed with sharp, cunning dialogue. The architectural landscape bodes well to the film’s nuanced, but sinfully quick narrative. A much better McDonagh film than Three Billboards. I said what I said.

Jessica Peña

LFF 2018: Widows

Year: 2018
Directed by: Steve McQueen
Starring: Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki, Cynthia Erivo, Daniel Kaluuya, Colin Farrell

Written by Dave Curtis

Back in 2011, I was a runner in a post-production house in London. At the same time, an up and coming director had finished filming his second feature film and was deep into the sound mix. This man would go on to win an Oscar and become one of the most wanted directors in the industry. His name was Steve McQueen.

He was just finishing Shame, his second link up with Michael Fassbender. (The first being ‘Hunger’). Steve was nice enough to answer all my questions. He enjoyed Nandos most days (he likes his chicken dry with no spices if you were wondering) and most importantly he was polite to the runners (many directors were not). It’s fantastic to see him doing so well. After the success of 12 Years a Slave it seems he has the pick of any actors or project he wishes. Fast forward to 2018 and his new film Widows opens the London Film Festival, a great honour for any British director.

Based on a British TV series from the 80s and popular book, Widows has been relocated to Chicago from London. Viola Davis plays Veronica, a recent widowed wife whose thief husband (Liam Neeson) died with his gang in their latest heist. After being threatened by a local gangster, the wives take on their husbands debts.

McQueen’s latest feels like his least personal project but also his most ambitious. It has given him the chance to try something different and use all his tricks that he has learnt from his previous films. When Widows is at its best it really does soar. The all-star cast elevates it and the smartly written script really cements it as a solid film. McQueen’s control shines through, a man so comfortable and confident in his abilities as a director.

The film starts with a bang and the tone is set.  The pacing rarely lets up and that is mostly down to the cast. Coming off the back of an Oscar win for Fences, Viola Davis once again delivers a performance which she has come to be known for. The backbone she gives Veronica is also the backbone to the film; strong and unwavering. She also has eyes of steel which are so intense. Out of a cast of so many it is always hard to mention just a few. Daniel Kaluuya is truly menacing as Jatemme Manning (the brother to Brian Tyree Henry’s Jamal Manning). He surely is the best Britain has to offer at the moment. Elizabeth Debicki offers some laughs as Alice, a fellow widow. She clearly is having fun in the role.

The director of photography Sean Bobbitt work also stands out, the camera work is exciting and ambitious. Some of the shots are inventive, in particular a scene which involves Colin Farrell having a very heated discussion in his car. The editing is also smooth which helps with the pacing and some of the music and song choices are very clever.

What Widows does well, is overshadow the very few flaws it has. Some of the characters aren’t really all there, I know the original husbands aren’t really it in but a bit depth to their backgrounds would have helped (Jon Bernthal is once again under used). Also, dare I say it, but some of the twists and shocks were a little predictable.

This is a fine piece of cinema where a great director has assembled a stunning cast who all contribute. There are no weak links. Widows is a character-driven heist film, not the other way around (the heist comes second). That doesn’t stop it being exciting, it’s very brutal and feels uncomfortably real for its entire runtime.

DAVE’S RATING:

4

The Headliners & Hidden Gems At The 62nd BFI London Film Festival

Yesterday saw the announcement of the full line-up of films for the 62nd BFI London Film Festival (LFF), and boy is there a ton to get your teeth stuck into! But this year we have even more reason to be excited as JUMPCUT will attending and covering the festival for the first time ever!

We’ll be covering a whole range of films screening at the festival, including some of the headliners and hidden gems! JUMPCUT’s LFF Queen Sarah has kindly picked out just some of the films she thinks you are going to want to keep your eye on!

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The Headliners

Widows
Directed by: Steve McQueen
Starring: Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki, Cynthia Erivo, Colin Farrell, Daniel Kaluuya

Why it is worth a watch: I mean that cast list alone is worth the admission price, but this female-fronted action thriller is also helmed by the man who brought us 12 Years a Slave, a film which previously enjoyed awards success. But the talent doesn’t end there, Widows is penned by Gone Girl writer Gillian Flynn and Hans Zimmer provides the score. This is an action movie of the highest calibre and one that will be well worth your time and money.

Screening at LFF: 10th, 11th, 12th October
UK Wider Release Date: 6th November 2018

Stan & Ollie
Directed by: Jon S Baird
Starring: Steve Coogan, John C Reilly, Nina Arianda, Shirley Henderson, Danny Huston

Why it is worth a watch: An ode to cinema, entertainment, and with two leading actors known for their brilliance as physical comedians, Stan & Ollie seems like the perfect film to close out London Film Festival. Coogan and Reilly bring beloved comedians Stan Laurel and Ollie Hardy to life on the big screen, focusing on the twilight years of their career. This is set to be a real crowd-pleaser and the most fitting curtain call for the festival.

Screening at LFF: 21st October
UK Wider Release Date: 11th January 2019

The Favourite
Directed by: Yorgos Lanthimos
Starring: Olivia Colman, Emma Stone, Rachel Weisz

Why it is worth a watch: A divisive filmmaker, but certainly one that gets people talking, Yorgos Lanthimos brings his third English-language film in four years to the London Film Festival. With stand-out performances from Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone, The Favourite promises to be bizarre, bonkers, and brilliant!

Screening at LFF: 18th, 19th, 21st October
UK Wider Release Date: 1st January 2019

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
Directed by: Joel and Ethan Coen
Starring: Tim Blake Nelson, Liam Neeson, Tom Waits, Zoe Kazan, Bill Heck

Why it is worth a watch: It’s the Coen Brothers! In all seriousness, the latest from the incomparable Coens promises to be wild (west) entertainment, hilarious, offbeat, and surprisingly melancholic. Dark humour and the trademark Coen brothers flair will be here in abundance

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Screening at LFF: 12th, 13th, 21st October
UK Wider Release Date: TBA

Beautiful Boy
Directed by: Felix Van Groeningen
Starring: Steve Carell, Timothee Chalamet, Maura Tierney, Amy Ryan

Why it is worth a watch: Just try and get through the trailer to this one without crying. Sometimes you just need to let it all out, and this will be the film that gets audiences at LFF reaching for the tissues. Starring man-of-the-moment Timothee Chalamet, hot off the heels of last year’s Call Me By Your Name, and Steve Carell in what is set to be another great dramatic role for him, Beautiful Boy will be the one to watch for those early Best Actor hints…

Screening at LFF: 13th, 14th, 16th October
UK Wider Release Date: 18th January 2019

Suspiria
Directed by: Luca Guadagnino
Starring: Dakota Johnson, Tilda Swinton, Mia Goth, Jessica Harper, Chloe Grace Moretz

Why it is worth a watch: Full disclaimer, I am a massive horror wuss and will therefore not be seeing this on the big screen, but it would be very remiss of me not to mention it here. There is no denying the trailer is stunning, and the hype levels amongst the JumpCut team have reached fever-pitch for this one. It won’t be for everyone but it’ll certainly be a talking point. And also it has Tilda Swinton in it; you can’t go wrong!

Screening at LFF: 16th, 17th, 19th October
UK Wider Release Date: 16th November 2019

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The Hidden Gems

Wild Rose
Directed by: Tom Harper
Starring: Jessie Buckley, Sophie Okonedo, Julie Walters

Why it is worth a watch: After impressing in Beast, Jessie Buckley stars in what is set to another impressive film. A Glaswegian single mum dreams of being a country singer, how hard could it be?! This is the sort of film that will make your heart soar, and with Julie Walters also appearing, it is hard not to draw comparisons with the underdog story of Billy Elliot. This film is already set to be one of the truly underrated gems of the festival.

Screening at LFF: 15th, 16th, 20th October
UK Wider Release Date: 8th February 2019

The Hate U Give
Directed by: George Tillman Jr
Starring: Amandla Stenberg, Regina Hall, Russell Hornsby, KJ Apa, Common

Why it is worth a watch: Adapted from Angie Thomas’ ‘Black Lives Matter’-inspired Young Adult novel, this film certainly feels like an important one, and one which is sadly still so relevant. Focusing on the young lives affected by the tragic shootings of their peers, the BFI are also offering £5 tickets to see this one for 16 to 25 year olds. Even outside of this age range, this film has a lot to offer, promising to be a powerful and timely watch.

Screening at LFF: 20th, 21st October
UK Wider Release Date: 26th October 2018

Assassination Nation
Directed by: Sam Levinson
Starring: Odessa Young, Suki Waterhouse, Hari Nef, Abra, Bella Thorne

Why it is worth a watch: Don’t let the early trigger warnings put you off, this is a film that bears everything upfront and then unleashes all hell. Assassination Nation is the Salem witch trials meets the digital generation in this thoroughly modern cautionary tale, and one which is poised to join other teen cult classics such as Heathers and Spring Breakers. Subversive and utterly unique, this could be one of the surprise hits of the festival.

Screening at LFF: 19th, 20th, 21st October
UK Wider Release Date: 23rd November 2018

Burning
Directed by: Lee Chang-dong
Starring: Yoo Ah-in, Jeon Jong-seo, Steven Yeun

Why it is worth a watch: This film wowed audiences at Cannes, which is often the mark of a successful festival film! This lean slow-burning thriller promises to have you gripped right from the start, as well as exploring complex themes such as obsession, class-conflict and suppressed male rage. It will be unlikely to have a wide cinema release, so catch this one at the festival whilst you can!

Screening at LFF: 19th, 20th October
UK Wider Release Date: 1st February 2019

Mandy
Directed by: Panos Cosmatos
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Andrea Riseborough, Linus Roache

Why it is worth a watch: Yes, Nicolas Cage. Stop reading now! Just kidding, this synopsis alone is enough to make you want to see it so we’re not even going to add to it: “In a mountain-cabin idyll, lumberjack Red Miller (Nicolas Cage) lives in perfect harmony with his great love Mandy (Andrea Riseborough). But the couple’s blissful utopia is cruelly shattered when a ragtag band of Satanic cultists invade their humble abode and claim Mandy for their own. Traumatised and distraught, Red is left with no option but to exact a bloody revenge.” (Michael Blyth, BFI)

Screening at LFF: 11, 12, 17th
UK Wider Release Date: 12th October 2018

Blaze
Directed by: Ethan Hawke
Starring: Ben Dickey, Alia Shawkat, Sam Rockwell

Why it is worth a watch: Ethan Hawke is having quite the year, and fresh from his acclaimed performance in First Reformed, his latest directorial offering his heading to LFF. This biopic about a little known musician is shot with affection and true passion that is hard to replicate, and quite frankly anything Ethan Hawke is passionate about, we love already!

Screening at LFF: 20th, 21st October
UK Wider Release Date: TBA

Viola Davis Assembles Her Heist Crew In New Trailer For Steve McQueen’s ‘Widows’

“From Academy Award®-winning director Steve McQueen (“12 Years a Slave”) and co-writer and bestselling author Gillian Flynn (“Gone Girl”), comes a blistering, modern-day thriller set against the backdrop of crime, passion and corruption: “Widows” is the story of four women with nothing in common except a debt left behind by their dead husbands’ criminal activities. Set in contemporary Chicago, amid a time of turmoil, tensions build when Veronica (Oscar® winner Viola Davis), Alice (Elizabeth Debicki), Linda (Michelle Rodriguez) and Belle (Cynthia Erivo) take their fate into their own hands and conspire to forge a future on their own terms.”

Directed by: Steve McQueen

Cast: Viola Davis, Elizabeth Debicki, Colin Farrell, Garret Dillahunt, Liam Neeson, Jon Bernthal, Daniel Kaluuya, Michelle Rodriguez, Carrie Coon

Release Date: November 9th,  2018

Surprise! Disney Drop First Teaser Trailer For Tim Burton’s ‘Dumbo’

“From Disney and visionary director Tim Burton, the all-new grand live-action adventure ‘Dumbo’ expands on the beloved classic story where differences are celebrated, family is cherished and dreams take flight. Circus owner Max Medici (Danny DeVito) enlists former star Holt Farrier (Colin Farrell) and his children Milly (Nico Parker) and Joe (Finley Hobbins) to care for a newborn elephant whose oversized ears make him a laughingstock in an already struggling circus. But when they discover that Dumbo can fly, the circus makes an incredible comeback, attracting persuasive entrepreneur V.A. Vandevere (Michael Keaton), who recruits the peculiar pachyderm for his newest, larger-than-life entertainment venture, Dreamland. Dumbo soars to new heights alongside a charming and spectacular aerial artist, Colette Marchant (Eva Green), until Holt learns that beneath its shiny veneer, Dreamland is full of dark secrets.”

Directed by: Tim Burton

Cast: Danny DeVito, Colin Farrell, Nico Parker, Finley Hobbins, Michael Keaton, Eva Green

Release Date: March 29th, 2019

First Trailer For Steve McQueen’s Star Studded ‘Widows’ Arrives!

“From Academy Award®-winning director Steve McQueen (“12 Years a Slave”) and co-writer and bestselling author Gillian Flynn (“Gone Girl”), comes a blistering, modern-day thriller set against the backdrop of crime, passion and corruption: “Widows” is the story of four women with nothing in common except a debt left behind by their dead husbands’ criminal activities. Set in contemporary Chicago, amid a time of turmoil, tensions build when Veronica (Oscar® winner Viola Davis), Alice (Elizabeth Debicki), Linda (Michelle Rodriguez) and Belle (Cynthia Erivo) take their fate into their own hands and conspire to forge a future on their own terms.”

Directed by: Steve McQueen

Cast: Viola Davis, Elizabeth Debicki, Colin Farrell, Garret Dillahunt, Liam Neeson, Jon Bernthal, Daniel Kaluuya, Michelle Rodriguez, Carrie Coon

Release Date: November 9th,  2018

Roman J, Israel, Esq.

Year: 2018
Directed by: Dan Gilroy
Starring: Denzel Washington, Colin Farrell, Carmen Ejogo.

WRITTEN BY HUNTER WILLIAMS

Dan Gilroy’s 2014 debut ‘Nightcrawler’ was a bold and bloody portrayal of modern-day media and consumer culture, exploring the shocking dangers of L.A crime journalism. It struck a chord with critics and audiences alike, making it one of the most memorable films of the whole year. It’s surprising, then, to leap four years ahead only to find that Gilroy’s second film, ‘Roman J. Israel, Esq.’, fails to reach the same heights, or even fit into the same league as ‘Nightcrawler’. Luckily, however, Washington’s colourful performance brings excitement to an otherwise boring story.

In what may seem like an average courtroom drama, Gilroy instead presents a unique portrait for the driven and idealistic defense attorney, Roman J. Israel, Esq., contrasting the old with the new through much of what makes up his character: large wire glasses, poofy hair, an insecure posture, and a toothy smile complimented by quirky headphones. It’s the kind of role that begged for someone good, and, surely enough, there was Denzel Washington. He carries the whole story on his shoulders, imbuing even the worst of scenes with personality and excitement. For example, Roman’s small tendencies are explosive and unique, revealing themselves only when they are repressed or explored. It brings nuance to Elswit’s unusually dull photography and allows Washington to transform the small-time lawyer into a symbol of social justice.

Even with such noble intentions, Gilroy fails to keep the flame alive in what feels like the least passionate ode 60’s activism there could be. It lacks the urgency required to establish a strong sense of importance, undermining its crucial message of speaking truth-to-power. For example, the subplot in which Roman meets a civil-rights activist named Maya, feels woefully underdeveloped and cheesy, playing second fiddle to an elaborate corporate scheme that loses control of itself as soon as it begins. When, in fact, it should be the other way around. It’s for this reason that Gilroy’s character-driven story of justice quickly transforms into a plot-driven adventure that feels too forgettable and slow to be considered for the 2018 Oscars.

It would almost be reasonable to pan it off as ‘Oscar bait’, but it might just be worse than that. Roman J. Israel, Esq. is among the long list of films that come out of every year that doesn’t do anything particularly impressive, but they don’t reek of production issues or problems either. It just exists because it can. And there’s nothing worse than a movie being a movie if it doesn’t have to be one.

HUNTER’S RATING: 5.6/10