The Book of Henry (Cinema Review)

12A – 105mins – 2017


 

QUALITY NOT GUARANTEED

After his 2014 indie sleeper hit won him critical acclaim, debuting director Colin Trevorrow was catapulted direct to the major league by being granted the keys to Steven Spielberg’s resurrected dino-franchise. Jurassic World proved such a monster smash (becoming the fourth highest grossing film OF ALL TIME) that Lucasfilm trusted him to close out their Star Wars sequel trilogy.

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The Monster (Film Review)

15 – 91mins – 2016


 

BEASTLY BEHAVIOUR

“Mom tells me there is no such thing as monsters. She is wrong.”

Angling as often for heartache as it is for horror, it is not hard to see why writer/director Bryan Bertino’s supernatural indie genre flick is also categorized as a drama. There is an eponymous otherworldly beastie (which looks like a cross between an Alien Xenomorph and Gozer from Ghostbusters), but the title could just as easily be a metaphorical judgement of the diabolical parenting Zoe Kazan’s alcoholic single-mother Kathy provides for her mature-beyond-her-years daughter.

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Toploader “SEEING STARS” (Album Review)

Toploader Seeing Stars

Released digitally on: 12th May 2017

Purchase link


 

IT’S A KNOCKOUT AGAIN

20 years after they first formed, 17 years after “Dancing in the Moonlight” gained them nationwide attention and 8 years since they reformed after an extended hiatus, Eastbourne alternative rockers Toploader have released their fourth long player, Seeing Stars, fan-funded via a successful PledgeMusic campaign (see HERE).

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Swiss Army Man (DVD Review)

15 – 97mins – 2016


 

WEEKEND AT MANNY’S

“You’re a miracle! Or I’m just hallucinating from starvation…?”

More popularly known as the film where Harry Potter plays a corpse for ninety minutes, co-writers and directors Daniel Scheinert and Daniel Kwan’s surreal indie comedy-drama is the epitome of a marmite movie. Appalled at its overt vulgarity and alienating premise, audience members walked out of its Sundance premiere last year, but beneath the farting corpse jokes, Swiss Army Man is also a haunting and experimental first-hand examination of a damaged soul and a troubled mind.

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Don’t Knock Twice (DVD Review)

15 – 93mins – 2017


 

GINGER HACKS

“Knock once to raise her from her bed, twice to raise her from the dead…”

Former Battlestar Galactia bombshell Katee Sackhoff headlines this Welsh indie chiller which splices urban legends with tangible domestic disquiet to conjure a relatable, thought-provoking and eerie atmosphere. Sackhoff plays Jess, a successful sculptor but a less-than-successful mother to her care-raised teenage daughter, Chloe (Lucy Boynton). When Chloe inadvertently awakens a witch while performing a prank on a long-avoided local residence, she returns to her mother’s custardy in the hope a change of scenery will stymie the supernatural curse.

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The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman (DVD Review)

Image result for charlie countryman

15 – 99mins – 2013


 

BY SHIA WILL

Hollywood golden boy Shia Transformers LaBeouf edged his way out of mainstream blockbusters and towards more edgy, indie fare with this trippy and über-violent coming of age romantic drama from debuting director Fredrik Bond, enticing a number of well-known faces along for the Euro joyride.

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Shadows in the Sun (DVD Review)

Maggie (Blu-ray Review)

15 – 95mins – 2015 


 

ARNIE OF DARKNESS

When a viral pandemic transforms humans across the globe into flesh-chomping zombies, concerned father Wade Vogel (Arnold Schwarzenegger) takes his recently bitten teenage daughter, Maggie (Abigail Breslin), home to their backwater farmhouse in Midwest America to make her comfortable for her impending tragic turn.

“You shouldn’t have brought me back…”

If the prospect of The Terminator taking down cannibalistic hordes of the undead appeals to your inner gore hound then prepare to go hungry as this washed-out post-apocalyptic thriller is more sobering everyman drama than blood-soaked action/horror fight-fest.

That is in no way a disparaging assessment of former credits-designer and debuting Brit director Henry Hobson’s low budget indie film, however, provided you are prepared for a slow and sombre reflection on such debatable issues as parental protection, euthanasia, suicide and the pain of living for the terminally ill. In fact, were you to excise the Z-word from first-time scribe John Scott 3’s screenplay then you would be left with a potent mixture which settles somewhere between grey-scaled wasteland trotter The Road (2009) and weepy true story Lorenzo’s Oil (1992) in tone and (brain) matter.

“Ain’t nobody fighting that.”

With a climax which rings maximum tension out of a daughter descending a staircase and kissing her snoozing father, this is far from a conventional vehicle for the iconic Hollywood muscle man, who also produces this black-listed flick. Taut, touching and troubling, Maggie makes for a sympathetic and shuffling think-piece which is contagious in how it digs under your skin and tears your heart to shreds – but it’s only scary in its relatable allegorical undercurrent.

CR@B Verdict: 4 stars

Imogen Heap “Sparks” (Album Review)

Release date: 18th August 2014
Label: Megaphonic Records


Ever-busy, yet far from prolific, by 2014 it had been half a decade since Imogen Heap’s last full album, the Grammy Award-winning Ellipse. Belated follow-up Sparks was in production – and lingering in pre-release hell – for three-and-a-half of those, and finally saw the light last summer, self-issued on her own label.

A concept album comprising 14 individual concepts, each “heapsong” was either commissioned or inspired by a different location or idea, whether that be a trip to Beijing as an artist in residence, a jogging app for mobile phones, a soundscape of a first date or a chair which records fans’ answers to a specific question. Recorded one at a time between 2011-13 (and initially released as singles as she went), it is no wonder that when bolted together these songs lack a cohesive flow.

Incorporating numerous genres as diverse as dreamy indie pop and stark electronica, Sparks‘ only loosely familiar element is the intermittent reoccurrence of Eastern themes, interwoven into three or four tracks when Imogen travelled.

It’s certainly ambitious – Imogen has never shied away from stretching herself – and there is some gold in here (Run Time, Lifeline, Entanglement, You Know Where to Find Me and Propellor Seeds are personal highs), but some of the more experimental tracks do fall shy of enjoyable. Neglected Space (a spoken word ‘poem’ from the perspective of disused buildings) and The Listening Chair (condensing the first 35 years of Imogen’s life into five minutes of hollered memories) grind any momentum to a halt and frustrate in their overlong sluggishness.

Personally, the ordering of the songs doesn’t sit well. For all its harmonious, piano-led sweetness, YKWtFM does not an impactful opener make. The same can be said for choosing the beautiful-but-airy Propeller Seeds as the ‘epic’ finale. Flitting from concept-to-concept makes for a staccato listening experience which I would forgive if the songs were presented in production order, but they aren’t; this order was purposefully chosen.

It pains me not to be bestowing indisputable praise upon an artist I adore; particularly one who is constantly innovating and challenging both herself and the mainstream. Some songs may simply take time to settle in (especially considering the length of time we have been living with some of the singles in isolation), however it is still evident to me that Sparks is not Imogen’s best work.

CR@B Verdict: 3 stars