Pet Sematary

For decades now, audiences around the world have been mesmerised, terrorised and astounded by adaptations of Stephen King’s works. The prolific author has seen many of his novels make the big screen. The Shining, Stand By Me and Shawshank Redemption, to name but a few, are all classics and examples of how well a book can be transferred onto the big screen.
Jeté Laurence in Pet Sematary (2019)

Some of King’s more dark and terrifying pieces have found new audiences over the past few years. It was a hit worldwide and a sequel is now being filmed. Like Pet Sematary, it was a remake of a well received take on the horror master’s work. I saw the latter over the weekend and can inform you now that it is as terrifying as the trailer makes it out to be. As King himslef said, it is the one work that kept him up at night. And that’s saying something ya freak!

Pet Sematary opens with the Creed family on the way to their new home in Ludlow. Louis Creed, played by Jason Clarke, is moving to the countryside with his wife Rachel (Amy Seimetz), daughter Ellie (Jetee Laurence), son Gage (Hugo and Lucas Lavoje), and cat Church. Trying to escape the frantic city life of Boston, the Creed’s have bought a lovely house with 50 acres of woods attached. In an attempt to work better schedules and reconnect with his kids, Louis takes the day shift at the University health centre where nosebleeds and sprained ankles are the port of call.
Rachel and Ellie discover a graveyard for pets located within their property. They meet Jud (John Lithgow), an older neighnour who seems to know more about the pet cemetery than he’s letting on.
After a shocking death at the univerity, Church being knocked down and terrifying nightmares, Jud shows Louis a place where the living don’t dare to journey and the dead don’t care to stay.

Jason Clarke in Pet Sematary (2019)

Jason Clarke blurs the line between rational professional and unhinged father in this terrifying film. His performance of a man slwoly unravelling while attemting to hold onto his beliefs and what is right was a pleasure to see.
Amy Seimetz was equally as powerful in her role as a guilt ridden wife with a terrible secret. It was in her scenes where she relives her terrible nights alone with her sister that had me fully back in the seat with my eyes almost covered.
The star of the show was young Jetee Laurence. She turns seamlessly from angelic daughter to demonic satan-child at the blink of an eye. I hope she isn’t typecast in the future because she was fanatstic. Terrifying, but great.

I do wish that the film explored the relationship between Rachel and her latte sister. It was terrifying but didn’t finish its journey. The filmmakers teased a horrifying reveal towards the end but left it at that. Just a reveal.
Although I was extremely scared throughout and still don’t know how i manged to eat popcorn while simultaneously, it hasn’t kept me awake at night like I thought it would. I was on edge for a few hours but I’ve moved on. I’ve grown as a person it seems and don’t put too much stock in horror movies anymore. In saying that, give me a romcom anyday.

4/5.

Us – Movie Review

Jordan Peele’s latest horror offering is as mindbending and thrilling as Get Out. However, Us is its own film with its own ideas and impeccable twists and turns. After viewing this earlier tonight and searching twitter for user responses and funny gifs, I’ve decided that it is hard to pick a favourite between the two. There is a lot more going on in this instalment, sometimes to its detriment, but it is clear that it requires at least two viewings.

The film opens in 1986 with a young Adelaide (Madison Currey) walking the boardwalk of Santa Cruz with her father and mother. The parents bicker throughout and when her mother goes to the bathroom and her father ignores her, Adelaide walks down to the beach. She sees a mirror funhouse and enters. Inside, the lights shut off and after trying to find her way out she bumps into a doppelganger of herself. Adleaide begins to scream and the movie cuts to the present day.
Adelaide is now en route back to Santa Cruz with her husband and two children. The adult Adelaide (Lupita Nyong’o) does not want to revisit the boardwalk where she encountered that terrible horror all those years ago. Her husband Gabe (Winston Duke), obviously doesn’t share her fears. Gabe and the two kids, Zora (Shahadi Wright Joseph) and Jason (Evan Alex), are all wrapped up in their own material worlds, choosing image, technology and a mask instead of realising that their mother would rather be anywhere else. Adelaide’s fears come true when a strange family appear at the top of their drive. The doppelgangers have come and are out for blood. What follows is an hour and a bit of intense scares and breathless thrills.

It is another offering from Peele that blurs the lines between horror, psychological thriller and action. The film touches heavily on class divide and the segregation of people. The wealthy and lucky only need worry about their appearance and possessions in life while the doppelgangers, or tethered, only know that they are not worthy of such things and must suffer life down below. Themes such as faith, materialism and ethics are rife throughout. I would implore any viewer to take most of the dialogue very seriously. You don’t know what throwaway line, action or scene might rear its head later on.

Nyong’o steals the show as Adelaide and Red. While Wright Joseph is extremely impressive in her dual performance also, it is the Oscar winner known for her portrayal of Patsey in 12 Years a Slave that blows the audience away. She plays the terrified Adelaide so well while also portraying the deranged and vengeful Red with frightening reality.
As I said earlier, this movie is similar to Get Out in that the twists and turns are impeccable. Us is a proper headscratcher. I won’t give away any spoilers but I guarantee that by the end of the movie you’ll be walking around in your day to day life wondering whether your doppelganger will pop out at any second and take your place. You’ll also be thinking of every line that has been said in the film and linking it all together. The only problem is that just like Det. Kujan, you’ll be too late and Keyser Soze will have been off on his escape already.

Netflix Selection: Umbrella Academy and Russian Doll.

The digital streaming behemoth has had a great start to the year. After producing some dubious figures and some questionable stats about the viewing figures of a number of shows, Netflix has come good again with a selection of Originals, their own personally funded and produced shows, and new additions from established artists.

The Umbrella Academy

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The first of these shows that I watched was Umbrella Academy. Revolving around a group of unwilling superheroes who were plucked from their mothers at birth by the eccentric and mean Sir Reginald Hargreeves, the story centres on the apocalypse and how life, or the end of all life, pulls you back to the ones you are closest with; in this case, your superhero brothers and sisters.

I really enjoyed this show. 10 episodes at 55 mins approx. each might seem like a lot but it flowed easily enough. There was a spot around episodes 6, 7 and 8 that dragged a bit but the end of the 8th episode and the final two installments are superb.
Robert Sheehan plays Klaus, one of the troubled supers, almost like a supercharged Nathan from Misfits. He is so effortlessly funny, flighty and camp while also developing as a character throughout the season. Although his accent doesn’t stay true the entire time, much like his role as Darren in Love/Hate, he still steals the show for me.
Aidan Gallagher as Number Five was also a joy to watch, as was Mary J. Blige as one part of a fiersome hitman team out to get Five. Colm Feore’s turn as the madcap billionaire was fun to watch in flashback scenes, even if you did feel for the neglected heroes.

I’d definitely recommend this show to most people and would urge you to power through the mid season lag.

Russian Doll

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Another show that deals with the marching of time and also the reset, is Russian Doll. Natasha Lyonne stars and produces in this show about Nadia, a thirty-something New Yorker who spends her nights drinking, smoking and doing whatever she wants. It is her birthday, and after going home with a smooth talker, she gets knocked down while running across the street for her cat. In the blink of an eye she is back up at her party the night before while all the other guests carry on as normal.
Nadia thinks she is on her own until she meets Alan in a hurtling elevator shaft before impending death. He reveals he has the same affliction; they both die and reset to the same point in their lives. The two go on to try and solve their problem, learning some dark truths about each other and themselves along the way.

Lyonne is fantastic as the witty, clever and self-sabotaging Nadia, still suffering from her mother’s abuses and struggling to see a happy ending. I haven’t watched OITNB but she is brilliant in this, playing the tough talking, streetwise New Yorker with ease.
Charlie Barnett plays Alan, Nadia’s unfortunate companion in their horrible situation. He is the polar opposite to Nadia; he is clean, rigid and sticks to a schedule. He is also hiding some mental health issues and refuses to face them, prompting both to wonder why they are in this mess. Barnett comes alive when he shows real emotion and both Lyonne and he work well together.
I enjoyed this show also, partly because it was set in New York and I got to live vicariously through the characters and remember my time there. A word of warning, though, is that the show gets incredibly dark in the last three episodes. The show is not for everyone.

Tomorrow I will review Ricky Gervais’ After Life and the indie buddy-comedy Paddleton, starring Ray Romano and Mark Duplass.

 

 

 

Captain Marvel

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The newest installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe hit our screens last Friday. Excitement surrounding the Avengers storyline has been high over the last number of years and with Endgame being released next month I wasn’t so sure that this was a necessary movie to release right now. I’m pleased to say that I was completely wrong.
The Marvel films are always enjoyable to watch, mixing action and humour effortlessly. Pithy one liners are a constant and the final face off between the goodies and the baddies are worth the two hour build up. Captain Marvel had all of these in droves while also putting a new spin on some aspects of the filmmaking process.

Captain Marvel tells the story of Vers (pronounced Veers), played by Brie Larson, a Kree soldier being trained to defeat a race called the Skrull, shapeshifters, in an intergalactic war. She has gaps in her memory and can’t remember her life before a Skrull attack six years ago. When she is captured by these shapeshifters and they reveal more about her past she follows them to C-53, Terra, or good old Earth. She meets two young agents, Fury and Coulson and begins to learn her true identity as the first hero of the galaxy.

All in all, I thought the movie was very good. It wan’t as funny as Thor: Ragnarok but was definitely funnier than most of the other films in the MCU. After talking to my friend about the movie, we agreed that if Captain Marvel is to save Tony from almost certain death in space then we cannot wait for the riposte and the banter between the two.
A big part of the movie I liked is that it set a good pace for the story. Due to the fact that Vers has no memory before six years ago and is already imbued with awesome powers we skip the hour/hour and a half of build up and figuring out who she is and who she can become. While this does in fact happen later in the movie, Vers already has her powers, knows how to use them and just gets on with it!
The soundtrack is also perfect. The movie is set in 1995, so the songs chosen are a mixture of Rock, Grunge and Pop/RnB. What a mixture! There is an epic scene between Larson and Anette Bening where Nirvana’s “Come as You Are”, plays. The title of the song is poignant in that moment in the film but it also just fits so well with what is happening on the screen.

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Larson is fantastic as Vers. She plays the soldier/piolet/saviour with confidence and is at ease with other big names such as Jude Law, Samuel L. Jackson and Bening. She has won an oscar after all!
Samuel L. Jackson, CGI’d to be twenty years younger in this movie and with both of his eyes, is a scene stealer as always. He and Larson bounce off each other and the characters are like old friends at the end of the movie.
Ben Mendelsohn plays one of the villains of the piece, Talos, a Skrull captain. Although their ability to shapeshift is unnerving and their appearance is undesirable, Mendelsohn is hilarious in this movie. I do have a friend who shall reMuireann nameless who found the Skrull’s attractive. In case anyone wanted to know.

I have read a lot of mixed reviews about this chapter of the MCU. Many, like I did origibnally, thought it was unneccessary and would be forgettable. I only went to see the post credit scene which ironically wasn’t worth staying for, but I’m glad I went.
Reviews I have read since have said it is forgettable and that she isn’t a likeable hero. I respectfully disagree on that count as like all Marvel movies, she has serious help from those around her. The difference is that in the end, she realises her true potential and is powerful enough to do whatever she wants.

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This film is an empowering movie for women without claiming to be one. Anna Boden directed this alongside Ryan Fleck, while Boden, Fleck and three other women wrote the screenplay and the story. Pinar Toprak composed the score, making this Marvel’s first ever film composed by a female. These real life women alongside the fictional powerful female characters in this story make this a film worth watching.

 

Can You Ever Forgive Me? Review.

 

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“Back once again.” The reviews are back! Ger Canning has uttered this iconic phrase in countless G.A.A. matches broadcast on live television over the last number of decades. I reached out to him to ask would he record it for me so I could have it playing whenever someone opened an article of mine. Ger, ever the joker, replied via his family, agent and the Gardai, and said, “For the last time, leave me and my family alone. I rue the day I stopped and talked to you in Tesco in Mahon Point. Legal action will follow unless you stop cold calling me in the middle of the night. I don’t know how you got my house number. I am a human being and you are driving me insane. May God have mercy on your soul.” Ah Ger, what a chancer. If you’re reading this, I’ll get onto you later around 2 a.m. Keep the phone on!

Now, onto serious stuff. The movie Can You Ever Forgive Me? caught my eye due to the many nominations the cast received across multiple academies and committees. Also, it was the only thing that I knew would be quiet at my local cinema, the Reel Picture Blackpool ( hashtag ad). I knew it wasn’t a comedy but with Melissa McCarthy leading and Richard E. Grant in a prominent supporting role I had a feeling there would be some comic moments.

McCarthy plays Lee Israel, a down on her luck author who has just lost her job for drunken behaviour, has a fraught relationship with her agent and is months behind on her rent. Israel does not have any redeemable qualities that we can see and is told by her agent that she, “…is not famous enough to be an asshole.” She has a sick cat that she cannot afford to take care of and the biographies that she is writing to stay afloat are on the sale rack. After selling a letter of a famous author toa bookshop owner played by Dolly Wells, she quickly realises that she could make a hefty profit by forging letters of other well known figures. She has made a living writing books about other people so she knows she can impersonate them in her letters.
She meets Jack Hock, played by Grant, at a bar in Manhattan, remembering when she first met him and he went to the bathroom in a closet (hashtag Jonny Melia, hashtag ad). Hock is hilarious, flamboyant and the perfect positive tonic to Israel’s cynicism and misery. After letting him in on her secret cash cow and after duping half of Manhattan’s bookshops and collectible dealers into believing her ruse, she and Hock come under the suspicion of the FBI. Sabotaging her rathionship with Anna, the bookshop owner and Hock himself, Israel is finally caught and sentenced to house arrest, probation and monetary restitution.
The movie ends with Israel and Hock reuniting in the same grimy bar they met in. They bury the hatchet and he agrees to let her write a book about their escapades, ever his funny, charming self. This never happened in real life but it was a good end to a fine movie.

The movie itself is enjoyable if a bit slow. The topic of literary forgery does not sound all that interesting but the revelations that there are seedy characters in the literary world such as Israel herself, made it an easy watch. The fact that the FBI were involved in her subpoena was amazing to learn. The dynamic between McCarthy and Grant was brilliant and really saved the movie from being a bore. That said, it dragged towards the end and I did find myself looking at the clock on my phone. While I know that with a film such as this the devil is in the details but if the movie was about fifteen minutes shorter then it would’ve been a small bit more enjoyable.
I couldn’t think of anyone that I would recommend the movie to after watching, but it wasn’t a total waste of an hour and forty minutes. If I was to give it a rating out of a number that I will make up right now, I would give it a 3.5/5. Some funny moments but I’m not sure if this book warranted a movie. That said, the performances of McCarthy and Grant saved this production and both, especially McCarthy, deserve their nominations.

 

Bohemian Rhapsody: The Show Will Go On

The long awaited Freddy Mercury bipoic opened on Thursday evening in North America to rave reviews. It raced to the top of the weekend’s box office with a projected $35-40 million return. It has beaten out all the other openers this weekend and rightly so. I went to see it in the middle of a split double shift, meaning eight hours on, eight hours off and eight hours on again. I didn’t expect to stay awake throught the whole thing after only a few hours kip but I was rapt with attention throughout.
The film throws up few surprises if any. I saw a few people write that it was predictable and formulaic. I mean, obviously. It’s a biopic of the most popular and most documented frontman in the world. Before the time of smartphones recording our every move, Mercury was in the limelight all the time. Add to the mix that he was a gay man in the ’80s, I think its fair to say that a lot of what he did musically and personally is already well known. Despite this lack of surprise, the movie keeps the viewers attention through witty interactions between the band, tense moments towards the end of the movie and of course, an astounding soundtrack. It helps that the soudtrack is all the band’s catalogue. That band being Queen, in case anyone didn’t know.

Rami Malek is Freddy Mercury. I don’t mean that he is the actor playing the icon, I mean that in this film he IS Freddy Mercury. He inhabits the character and sometimes you almost forget that it isn’t Mercury playing himself with actors surrounding him. That said, Gwilyn Lee as Brian May, Ben Hardy as Roger Taylor and Joseph Mazzelo as John Deacon are all fantastic. Aiden Gillen, Allen Leech and Aaron McCusker are three major Irish talents who star in the movie. Gillen has the same raspy voice as every other character he plays, being John Reid, Queen manager, in this film. Leech, of Downton Abbey fame, plays Paul Prenter, a long-lurking snake in the grass. McCusker plays Mercury’s final love, Jim Hutton. All three put in sound performances with Leech excelling as the slimy Prenter who is intent on playing Freddy against his family, the band.

I listen to Joe.ie and their film review podcast which is very good. They thought that the film was bad and cheesy and only people who didn’t know the full history of queen would enjoy the film as a whole, and not just Malek’s performance. Even though I can see where they are coming from I have to disagree. The film might be a bit jumpy and the early parts of the film seem a bit cheesy but as a whole, the film is very good.

The film comes to an end after the epic 20-minute finale, an almost identical replica of the Live Aid set that Queen performed. Instead of depicting his final years in which he was ravaged by AIDS, some screen caps explain that he died in 1991 and that a charity was set up in his honor to help AIDS victims worldwide. This is extremely fitting as a half an hour before, Mercury, after telling his band and friends that he has the dreaded disease, says, “I will not be their poster boy, their cautionary tale…”. Instead of showing him at his weakest, we see him go out on that incredible high of performing to billions of people all around the world and holding them in a trance like only Freddy Mercury could.

On a related note, are films coming out earlier in Ireland than America? Thought it would be the other way around. On another related note, I’ve been blasting Queen all day and night after watching the film. Shout out to my music teacher Ms. Lucey for introducing us to A Night at the Opera. On an unrelated note, I’m absolutely wrecked and want to sleep for a thousand years.

A Star Is Born: Review

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A bit late to the party here but I finally got to check out Bradley Cooper’s directorial debut, a retelling of A Star is Born. This is the fourth version of the 1937 original film, with Judy Garland playing the star in 1954 and Barbra Streisand playing the same character in 1976. Lady GaGa and Bradley Cooper play the two main characters. Gaga is Ally, a waitress and sometimes performer named Allie, who is discovered by alcoholic and worn out country music star Jackson Maine, played by Cooper. The cheek of him putting himself in his own film. Brazen out!
The film follows the romance that immediately blossoms between the two and the burgeoning career of Allie as she eventually begins to outshine her lover and partner. She lands record deals and primetime entertainment television show appearances while he is being replaced in Roy Orbison tribute bands. Cooper’s Jackson slides deeper into depression and begins to lose his battle with addiction. Following a successful stint in rehab after almost ruining Allie’s career in a drink and drug fuelled Emmy Awards Night (as per), he realises he is holding her back. In a gut punching ending he sets her free and Allie delivers us his final gift: a love song he wrote for her in the event that he would ever leave. We finish with a close-up on her face as she looks deadpan into the camera and although she has made money and won awards throughout the feature, finally a star is born.

Personally, I think that I let too many people tell me this movie was brilliant before I saw it. It was good. It was really good. I love a good rom-com and I love a good musical. As much as they tear me apart Lisa I love an emotional ending. This movie had every one of those in spades and I really enjoyed the movie. However, I had read so many good reviews and heard tell of the wonders of the movie that I just had too high of an expectation. The Imdb rating is also 8.3 which should make it one of the best films of all time. Voting systems can be skewed but I would put the rating in the mid 7s.
The film starts out slow despite the presence of some boozy rock n’ roll and riveting French tones. After Allie joins Jack on tour the film becomes more lively but as a result of this it almost becomes too jumpy. Granted, I am being a bit too critical here because at 136 minutes, the film is long enough but still, it could have been fleshed out more. We jump from the lovers being happy and joyous to being at each other’s throats the next. Perhaps that’s a perfect reflection of the rock and roll/popstar lifestyle coupled with addiction and I’m just a doorman on the nightshift who’s more Indie pop/rock and IPAs. C’est la Vie.

I truly did think this film was fantastic. The soundtrack is brilliant and there are some standout tracks climbing the charts right now. The best part of the film was definitely the chemistry between Cooper and GaGa. Lady’s acting wasn’t on par with someone with the calibre of Cooper throughout the whole film but there was a rawness about her performance that struck a chord (pun intended). It also helps that she has an amaxing voice and is already a global superstar. The scene where she is dragged on stage to sing her original song with Cooper that he arranged for her is nothing short of spine-tingling. Her unsuredness and half-embarrassment at singing her song is adorable and makes you root for the character from there until the end of the film. So go for the tunes, go for the emotions. Go if you want to see Lady Gaga’s nipple around halfway  through the movie. Go for the love of it all!