Ben Rolph (DiscussingFilm)

Film reviews written by Ben Rolph on DISCUSSING FILM

American Animals (Aug 30th 2018): https://discussingfilm.net/2018/08/30/american-animals-a-true-crime-experimental-blast/

The Little Stranger (Sep 16th 2018): https://discussingfilm.net/2018/08/30/american-animals-a-true-crime-experimental-blast/

Sunset (Sep 29th 2018): https://discussingfilm.net/2018/09/29/sunset-review-ambiguous-dark-and-beautiful-zurich-film-festival/

Roma (Sep 30th 2018): https://discussingfilm.net/2018/09/30/roma-review-alfonso-cuarons-heart-wrenching-study-of-class-and-motherhood-zurich-film-festival/

Green Book (October 1st 2018): https://discussingfilm.net/2018/10/01/green-book-review-a-heartfelt-tragic-tale-of-two-worlds-colliding-zurich-film-festival/

Apostle (Oct 12th 2018): https://discussingfilm.net/2018/10/12/apostle-review-visceral-grounded-fable-littered-with-surprises/

Bad Times at the El Royale (Oct 14th 2018): https://discussingfilm.net/2018/10/14/bad-times-at-the-el-royale-review-a-masterly-crafted-stylised-neo-noir/

Suspiria (October 20th 2018): https://discussingfilm.net/2018/10/14/bad-times-at-the-el-royale-review-a-masterly-crafted-stylised-neo-noir/

The Favourite (Oct 24th 2018): https://discussingfilm.net/2018/10/24/the-favourite-review-an-absurd-rousing-and-tragic-joy/

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse (Nov 28th 2018): https://discussingfilm.net/2018/11/28/spider-man-into-the-spider-verse-review-a-masterpiece-in-animation/

Ralph Breaks the Internet (Nov 29th 2018): https://discussingfilm.net/2018/11/29/ralph-breaks-the-internet-review-a-lovable-contemporary-sequel/

Vox Lux (Dec 4th 2018): https://discussingfilm.net/2018/12/04/vox-lux-review-natalie-portman-stuns-in-this-intense-tragedy/

Mortal Engines (Dec 5th 2018): https://discussingfilm.net/2018/12/05/mortal-engines-review-an-epic-for-the-ages/

Bumblebee (Dec 9th 2018): https://discussingfilm.net/2018/12/09/bumblebee-review-a-study-full-of-heart-and-spirit-in-this-best-made-transformers-film-yet/

Aquaman (Dec 11th 2018): https://discussingfilm.net/2018/12/11/aquaman-review-breathtakingly-beautiful-and-riveting-throughout/

Welcome To Marwen (Dec 19th 2018): https://discussingfilm.net/2018/12/19/welcome-to-marwen-review-a-fascinating-world-of-art/

Colette (Jan 12th 2019): https://discussingfilm.net/2019/01/12/colette-review-powerful-ravishing-and-sumptuous/

Vice (Jan 15th 2019): https://discussingfilm.net/2019/01/15/vice-review-christian-bale-is-hysterical-in-this-raw-drama/

Glass (Jan 16th 2019): https://discussingfilm.net/2019/01/16/glass-review-m-night-shyamalan-on-top-form-in-this-fascinating-study/

How To Train your Dragon 3 (Jan 24th 2019): https://discussingfilm.net/2019/01/24/how-to-train-your-dragon-the-hidden-world-review-a-feasible-end/

Destroyer (Jan 24th 2019): https://discussingfilm.net/2019/01/24/destroyer-review-nicole-kidman-shines-in-a-scorched-crime-thriller/

Escape Room (Feb 2nd 2019): https://discussingfilm.net/2019/02/02/escape-room-review-a-nifty-and-smartly-woven-concept/

Velvet Buzzsaw (Feb 3rd 2019): https://discussingfilm.net/2019/02/03/velvet-buzzsaw-review-what-is-art-dan-gilroy-doesnt-know/

Cold Pursuit (Feb 5th 2019): https://discussingfilm.net/2019/02/05/cold-pursuit-review-a-hilarious-genre-breaking-thriller/

The Wife (Feb 7th 2019): https://discussingfilm.net/2019/02/07/the-wife-review-glenn-close-quietly-commands-in-this-oscar-worthy-film/

Alita (Feb 8th 2019): https://discussingfilm.net/2019/02/08/alita-battle-angel-review/

At Eternity’s Gate (Feb 12th 2019): https://discussingfilm.net/2019/02/12/at-eternitys-gate-review/

Happy Death Day 2U (Feb 14th 2019): https://discussingfilm.net/2019/02/14/happy-death-day-2u-review-jessica-rothe-shines-in-this-hilarious-slasher/

The Hole in The Ground (Feb 22nd 2019): https://discussingfilm.net/2019/02/22/the-hole-in-the-ground-review-a-beautifully-unnerving-psychological-horror-glasgow-film-festival/

Serenity (Feb 26th 2019): https://discussingfilm.net/2019/02/26/serenity-review-a-neo-noir-inception-like-mystery-that-is-utterly-fascinating/

Captain Marvel (Mar 5th 2019): https://discussingfilm.net/2019/03/05/captain-marvel-review/

Dragged Across Concrete (Mar 7th 2019): https://discussingfilm.net/2019/03/07/dragged-across-concrete-review-an-unflinching-masterclass-in-film/

Everybody Knows (Mar 12th 2019): https://discussingfilm.net/2019/03/12/everybody-knows-review/

Happy as Lazaro (Mar 15th 2019): https://discussingfilm.net/2019/03/15/happy-as-lazzaro-review-a-beguiling-and-spellbinding-fairy-tale/

Shazam! (Mar 23rd 2019): https://discussingfilm.net/2019/03/23/shazam-review/

Dumbo (Mar 26th 2019): https://discussingfilm.net/2019/03/26/dumbo-review/

Pet Sematary (Apr 3rd 2019): https://discussingfilm.net/2019/04/03/pet-sematary-review-a-horrifying-chiller/

Greta (Apr 23rd 2019): https://discussingfilm.net/2019/04/23/greta-review-playfully-intense-but-shallow/

Curse of La Llarona (Apr 25th 2019): https://discussingfilm.net/2019/04/25/the-curse-of-la-llarona-review/

Avengers: Endgame (Apr 25th 2019): https://discussingfilm.net/2019/04/25/avengers-endgame-review-heartbreakingly-wonderful/

The Captor (Stockholm) (Apr 29th 2019): https://discussingfilm.net/2019/04/29/the-captor-review-ethan-hawkes-hilariously-charming-reservoir-dogs-like-film/

Booksmart (May 6th 2019): https://discussingfilm.net/2019/05/06/booksmart-review-wild-hilarious-and-gives-many-fs/

Detective Pikachu (May 9th 2019): https://discussingfilm.net/2019/05/09/detective-pikachu-review-ryan-reynolds-shines-over-everything-else/

 

 

A Quiet Place – mastery of tension (ESSAY)

A Quiet Place is a perfect example of how tension should work in film, with director, John Krasinski taking inspiration from films like Jaws (1975). As with Jaws I would not class A Quiet Place as a horror film, but a psychological thriller.
The film centres around a family living in a dystopian future, where blind monsters have invaded, and throughout the film we find out the reason for their attacks to be… they are untameably frustrated at any sound louder than a click of fingers. It stars director John Krasinski as Lee (the father) Emily Blunt (Krasinski’s real life wife) as Evelyn (the mother), Noah Dupe and Millicent Simmonds as the children.
 
Krasinski, from the opening scene, presents us with no needless exposition, no explaining what happened or how the monsters got there. He only provides the vital information to give us a reason to fear the ominous threat that is unseen for the first ten minutes – he presents this information using the mise-en-scene to tell the backstory. The benefit of emotionally reeling in the audience to care for the family so early on is that empathy for them means that we feel the state of constant fear.
For tension to work, these moments of fear must be followed by moments of relief, to relax the audience and please them (normally for a short period), but, shortly after, build up the tension once more. Krasinski has cleverly used the focus in various scenes throughout the film to force fear over us, as we see the threat but our characters can’t.
As presented in A Quiet Place, when tension builds, it’s usually at a point of weakness or a dilemma. Krasinski frequently embeds these ideas into the film, most notably when Evelyn (Emily Blunt) goes into labour in the middle of the dystopic world where the only way to survive is to stay quiet; she is faced with a dilemma and experiencing a moment of weakness after stepping on a nail that pierces through her foot. In pure agony, she makes the swift decision to find a distraction to buy her time to give birth. This sequence makes for the tensest scene in the entire film, with the sound design adding to the unbearable tension as we, the spectator, question her fate.
 
The aforementioned sound design is absolutely impeccable; sound is vital for the workings of this film. Krasinski’s characters mainly communicate using sign language, but the sound editing intertwines eerie sounds from the score and little Foley noises that sprinkle over the scenes. As seen, and heard, in some of the best films of all time, the soundtrack is vital in building tension, like John Herman’s iconic score for Jaws.
Another element in the birthing scene that was executed excellently was the use of editing. Cuts are commonplace in film – but focusing on the ideas that can be evoked when a scene cuts is something that Krasinski nails. As Evelyn begins to give birth and the fireworks go off, she gives a massive scream, which then suddenly cuts. The cut leaves us questioning her fate. This is added to when we visit the bathroom again a few short minutes, after Lee finds the blood in what looks like an empty room, and we assume the worst. [spoiler] The tension is then broken by a necessary moment of relief as we find out she survived.
 
A Quiet Place utilises other key elements to add to the drama in their own respective way. For example, camera angles emphasise weakness or dilemma in the vast majority of scenes, accompanied by many handheld shots to immerse you into the action, and the smooth tracking shots that evoke the ominousness of the situation.
 
A Quiet Place is out on DVD; it’s a must see on the big screen – you will feel the tension rip through you as you sit there engrossed by the masterpiece that Krasinski has brought to life.

Hereditary review – a horrifying masterpiece

Hereditary is directed by first time director Ari Aster – who proves himself a brilliant director, creating a film that doubled my heart rate and made everyone leave the cinema with their jaws on the ground. The film is without a doubt something that horrors of recent years have been missing; it pays homage to many greats such as The Exorcist and Rosemary’s Baby and puts its demonic twist on it.
 
The film centres around a conspiracy: after the death of the grandma, mysterious occurrences begin to happen. Bit-by-bit, each character (excluding the father) becomes more and more twisted – little signs appear, forewarning us of the horror that is about to come.
The girl, Charlie, is an abnormal girl: lonely and quite, and when things go south we begin to see the whole picture. The film has been perfectly crafted, inserting elements that foreshadow greater ideas – with the open-ended way the film cuts to credits you are left in shock; there is no one answer to what happened, rather it’s left up to your interpretation.
 
The film tackles the idea of demons, hell and spirits, sprinkling familiar ideas throughout, but the direction, visuals and sound are remarkable. An irritating ticking is always present in the house, whenever the film cuts elsewhere, there is some sort of foley sound to create tension, which the film instils so perfectly.
Toni Collette (Annie) puts on the performance of her life. She plays the mum – plagued with troubles and loss – we learn it all stems from her mother who leaves a cryptic letter; it is just prior to that that things go the wrong way. She is an artist, she has been commissioned to re-create scenes from her life – this only emphasises the dark and creepy nature of what surrounds her, as most images are rather terrifying.
One element that some may not have caught, that a few others and I did, was Annie’s nightmares were signals – implanted subconsciously.
Throughout her entire life, she has sleepwalked, and in nightmares and reality, she has attempted to kill her son, because deep down she knew what would happen. The idea of a boy being the host body was implanted early on when it was briefly referenced, the grandmother always wanted Charlie to be a boy and now she is gone, the sacrifices were worth it in the eyes of the maddened grandmother.
 
Hereditary is without a doubt the horror we need, and I think it could be up for Academy recognition when it comes to next year – this is a film that cannot be missed.

Lady Bird review – a hilarious joy ride

Greta Gerwig’s debut solo film, “Lady Bird,” shines with fabulous performances from the entire cast, most notably Saoirse Ronan who plays Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson, a teenager trying to figure out where she stands whilst constantly feuding with her mum (Laurie Metcalf). Christine is a rebellious and ambitious teenager, whose charm throughout the film compels the spectator to feel a wide range of emotions – from joy to cringing – has a warmth of character that is utterly charming.
 
Most directors don’t have near perfect debut films, however, Gerwig has shown her skill and talent in writing and bringing a superb screenplay to life in a coming-of-age story unlike any other.
Essentially, we focus upon the mother-daughter relationship. Surrounding them are characters like Julie, who’s incredibly charming and smart, played by Beanie Feldstein; Kyle, the cool guy around school, played by Timothée Chalamet; and Danny, a confused teenager who falls in love with Lady Bird, played by Lucas Hedges. Throughout the entire film, the cast is what gives it the push to greatness. I could not see anyone else as Lady Bird or the other characters, as they all delivered outstanding performances and, in some cases, played very conflicted characters.
 
Throughout the film, Ronan’s performance is so real and compelling that we as the spectator are sucked into the reality of the film and at no point do you question that; that is why she scored herself a ‘Best Actress’ nomination for the Academy Awards. The cinematography is superb and goes hand-in-hand with the vast range of colours shining through, showing the dark and light sides of life in Sacramento.
 
The film is about how hard it is for teenagers to grasp the struggles of adult life and it has been captured with charm and emotion. This film will go down in my list as one of my favourites of recent years. It’s a hilarious joyride and I think it’s a shame it didn’t score any Academy Awards, however, it scored two great wins at the Golden Globes.
5/5 Stars

Leave No Trace review

From start to finish ‘Leave No Trace’ is incredibly moving and brought to life by impeccable performances by Thomasin McKenzie who plays Tom, the daughter and Ben Foster who plays Will, the dad.

The film focuses on the idea of forgotten America, homing in on Will’s incapability to adapt back to normal life as a veteran, bringing Tom up in a world where they live in the wilderness – moving from camp to camp and having little contact with the outside world. They live a sustainable and happy life until they are caught and Tom begins to realise this dream is not truly reality.

Debra Granik, who directed ‘Winter’s Bone’ has returned with a masterpiece and I tend to tread lightly when using that term. But this film deserves all the praise, the gentle nature of the father-daughter relationship shines incredibly bright through the restrained nature of both characters.

The cinematography is remarkable, capturing the essence of wonder and glory that they live in – rather alien to us, the spectator. We end up rooting for them to stay in this delicate state and will them to restrain from adapting as they say every so often. The use of lighting portrays the idea of how elegant nature is and it is used in such a way to characterise the surroundings as an ally.

Granik also conveys the linked themes of time and innocence throughout, there are no stereotypical teenager fits or even any arguments – the ideas conveyed about the here and now, until the very end where Tom realises the truth. That she does not suffer what he suffers, it’s bitter-sweet but an incredibly emotional way of ending which really capitalises on all the points covered throughout the film.

The essence of what this film stands for, the ideas of struggle and pain within a beautiful life is presented with such delicacy and emotion and is a riveting joy-ride from start to finish. Thomasin McKenzie shines and I would argue that she puts on the best performance by any actor so far this year and even in recent years; there is definite success ahead for her, starting with the Academy Awards in which Granik’s ‘Winter’s Bone’ received many nominations. I have no doubt the film will be recognised for the extreme talent in it and in the process of making such a gentle yet realistic take on a serious matter.

This film will not leave my mind, probably ever.

The film is out in select cinemas – The BFI, Picturehouse and Curzon are showing the film in and around London throughout the next month.

5/5 Stars

Shazam has been CAST!

Zachary Levi will be playing ‘Shazam’, a fan favourite DC Comics character once known as Captain Marvel. Billy Batson is a young child who was given magical powers by the wizard Shazam and can summon his powers by saying “Shazam!” and he tranforms into an adult version of himself with a super suit on.

David F. Sandberg is directing Shazam! for New Line. Levi is known for his comedy roles so its a big risk but most fans will be happy to know that this film is along the way.

There is no set release date for “Shazam!” as of now.

MCM London Comic Con – Marvel Exclusives from Monogram

 

Attending this year at MCM London Comic with two Marvel exclusives and other Marvel items comes Monogram International, a company known for their Marvel, DC Comics and a broad other range of unique merchandise.

Monogram will be at booth #4422, so you will be able to pick up exclusive Marvel merchandise such as the Thor Ragnarok Thor hammer and Hulk fist keyring set as seen above and there are many more awesome items ready for you.

The other Marvel exclusive that they are bringing is the Thor and Hulk collectors magnet which comes at a very reasonable price and is something that is a must get if you want to change up your simple plain magnets at home.