Since I don’t get to the cinema to see new releases that often anymore, this is my new weekly feature reviewing the latest releases on Sky Cinema Premiere (and in turn, Now TV). I will write a short review and rating for each of the films that I have watched and then give you the details for the ones that I didn’t get a chance to see.
This week’s feature sees the release of Dean, It Came from the Desert, Terrifier, A Bad Idea Gone Wrong, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri, Mary and the Witch’s Flower, and Honey: Rise Up and Dance.
29th October – Dean
Synopsis: Blocked Brooklyn cartoonist Dean and his father Robert are mourning the death of Dean’s mother. Dad is keen to sell the family home and move on while Dean heads to LA for an interview and meets Nicky. However, it’s not that easy to make a fresh start.
Director: Demetri Martin
Cast: Demetri Martin, Kevin Kline, Gillian Jacobs, Mary Steenburgen, and Rory Scovel
30th October – It Came from the Desert
Synopsis: Based on the 50s Amiga game, a group of gung-ho motocross competitors head to the desert for a massive party, but inadvertently set up camp next to a secret military base. The product of the clandestine experiments next door is a horde of deadly giant ants, resulting in a showdown between bikers and bugs.
Director: Marko Mäkilaakso
Cast: Harry Lister Smith, Alex Mills, Vanessa Grasse, Mark Arnold, Callum McGowan, and Andrew Horton
31st October – Terrifier
Synopsis: After a Halloween night out, Tara and Dawn encounter the creepy maniacal Art The Clown in a pizza parlour. Dawn seizes the chance for a selfie, but things rapidly get worse when the girls discover that they have a flat tyre. Art has things planned for them that are no laughing matter.
Director: Damien Leone
Cast: Jenna Kanell, Samantha Scaffidi, David Howard Thornton, Catherine Corcoran, Pooya Mohseni, and Matt McAllister
1st November – A Bad Idea Gone Wrong
Synopsis: Slackers Marlon and Leo hit upon a foolproof plan to break into a house while the owners are away. However, boneheaded Marlon fiddles with the security system and accidentally arms it, trapping them in the house. He then discovers that the house is the home of Leo’s ex-girlfriend. To cap it all, they find a girl inside claiming to be a house-sitter.
Director: Jason Headley
Cast: Matt Jones, Will Rogers, Sam Eidson, Eleanore Pienta, Jonny Mars, and Lenne Klingaman
2nd November – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Synopsis: Mildred Hayes, a hard-nosed mother, is seeking justice for her murdered daughter. With no arrests after seven months, Mildred puts up three roadside signs to goad Ebbing police chief Willoughby into action. But the law – and especially the town’s hot-headed deputy – don’t take kindly to the provocation. And the townsfolk are on their side. But Mildred doesn’t care about ruffling a few feathers.
Director: Martin McDonagh
Cast: Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell, Peter Dinklage, Abbie Cornish, and Caleb Landry Jones
Review: There’s so much that I love about this film: the performances, the characters, the conflicts, the balance of tragedy and comedy, but most of all, I love how it evolved in ways that I wasn’t expecting it to. However, knowing that there isn’t going to be a sequel makes me think that, on further viewings, my rating of this will eventually come down.
Director Martin McDonagh commented that, “So many crimes are unsolved, and part of the story is what happens when a crime isn’t solved. What happens to the people left behind? What happens to their anger and rage and pain?” Which is great. I’m glad that they haven’t given a happy ending to the investigation just because it was made for a cinema screen. I can handle the reality of what the families in this story are left with, what they have to deal with every day, the heartbreak that won’t go away. That kind of ending is just as powerful in its own way.
However, we know far too little about Angela, about her relationship with her mother and the circumstances of her death or the lead up to it. Giving her character more background would have given such a bigger impact to the story, allowing us to see her through Mildred’s eyes. That way, we could have felt the emotion that she was feeling. But that potential of breaking its viewers’ hearts and souls is lost and, instead, she is given nothing more than an empty body, a body that we struggle to want to seek justice for in the same way that Mildred does.
And not just because of that, but I so want to see Frances McDormand and Sam Rockwell go on either a revenge spree or an emotional journey together, whichever way they decide to go.
3rd November – Mary and the Witch’s Flower (Meari to majo no hana)
Synopsis: Based on The Little Broomstick by Mary Stewart, the film follows bored youngster Mary who is staying with her great-aunt before starting school. But when she ventures into the woods, she discovers a mysterious, glowing blue flower and an old broomstick. She is suddenly whisked off to a city in the sky, where Madam Mumblechook presides over the Endor College of Magic along with the mysterious Doctor Dee. But are they as benign as they appear?
Directors: Hiromasa Yonebayashi and Giles New
Voice Cast: Ruby Barnhill, Kate Winslet, Jim Broadbent, Lynda Baron, Louis Ashbourne Serkis, and Ewen Bremner
Review: The first feature film from Studio Ponoc (founded by former Studio Ghibli lead film producer Yoshiaki Nishimura), Mary and the Witch’s Flower sees the welcome return of some of the beautiful hand-drawn animation that Studio Ghibli used to delight us with, so I’m incredibly thankful for that. But whilst the animation is up to the excellent standard that we were used to (and it will undoubtedly be one of the best looking animations that you will see all year), the story isn’t quite up to par. The story is quite straightforward and doesn’t quite develop its characters well enough. It starts off by detailing that Mary feels like an outsider and then she seems to find her belonging as a witch. However, her experience doesn’t quite go that way that we would hope for her, so whilst we’re eager for Mary to find her place in the world, she’s only let down some more. She comes away from it all accepting her uniqueness a little better, but I just get that sense of a young, strong character feeling like she can take on anything. And maybe that’s what my problem with this film is: Mary felt very young. She still relied on others and seems like needs a lot more support before she could lead a film of Studio Ghibli quality. That being said, Mary and the Witch’s Flower is still a lovely, heart-warming animation full of magic and imagination, and I’m so excited for what this new studio have to bring.
4th November – Honey: Rise Up and Dance
Synopsis: Wannabe street dancer Skyler defies her mum and boyfriend to train for an edgy dance crew. Determined to prove them all wrong, Skyler practices non-stop in Atlanta’s underground dance scene and catches the eye of Tyrell. He helps her take her dance and hip-hop battle skills to the next level in order to achieve her dreams.
Director: Bille Woodruff
Cast: Teyana Taylor, Bryshere Y Gray, Sierra Aylina McClain, Charmin Lee, Candice Craig, and Joel Rush