FILM OF THE WEEK

FURIOSA: A MAD MAX SAGA

George Miller’s original MAD MAX, made in 1979, was a little Australian revenge story, which soon became the highest crossing independent film of its time. It launched Mel Gibson’s international career and led to two blockbuster sequels in the early eighties, also featuring Tina Turner in MAD MAX BEYOND THUNDERDOME.

The trilogy is well regarded amongst action aficionados and then years later, in 2015 to be exact, Miller decided to continue the saga with MAD MAX: FURY ROAD, one of the most spectacular action films of all time. Tom Hardy was Max, but it was Charlize Theron who stole the film as the remarkably fearless Furiosa. Now, Miller tells the origins of this amazing woman’s story – from the time when a young Furiosa (Alyla Browne) is kidnapped from the Green Place of Many Mothers by the vicious Biker Horde led by the Warlord Dementus (Chris Hemsworth). Furiosa (now played by Anya Taylor-Joy) grows amongst this violent environment in the Wasteland but always on her mind there is no other thoughts but escape and revenge…

It is a spectacular adventure of the best kind, especially if experienced on the giant IMAX screen. Taylor-Loy is strong as the eponymous heroine and so is an unrecognisable Hemsworth as the villain of the piece. The strikingly choreographed action sequences, its imaginative designs as well as its great use of stunning desert locations are beyond description and simply take the breath away. It may not be as tight and exciting as FURY ROAD, but it is still far superior to recent action blockbusters.

 

THE BEAST

This is one of the most original and intriguing films I have seen for a long time. Bertrand Bonello’s intelligent film is inspired by Henry James’ short story “The Beast in the Jungle”, which spans over three time periods. A cross between sci-fi and romantic period drama superbly executed and exquisitely performed.

The time is 2044 and the world is now run by artificial intelligence, who has replaced humans in most jobs. Some humans including Gabrielle (Lea Seydoux) decide to go through a DNA process to purify themselves from any emotions and get a better job. During this journey Gabrielle revisits her past lives and reconnects with Louis (George MacKay), a man she meets at the centre, who also happens to be her great love from her past…

It is a suitably complex film with graceful performances and imaginative direction that make this quite compelling. Seydoux delivers a spellbinding performance – the best of its kind since probably Naomi Watts in MULHOLLAND DRIVE.

 

A HOUSE IN JERUSALEM

 

Award-winning Palestinian writer/director Muayad Alayan tells the story of Rebecca (Miley Locke), a young, troubled girl, who leaves her life in England behind following her mother’s tragic death. She travels to Jerusalem with her father Michael (Johnny Harris) and settles in an old family home in the Valley of the Ghosts. She is still haunted by memories of her mother until she begins an unlikely friendship with Rasha, a young Palestinian girl that no one else can see…

Alayan builds up the tension from its opening sequences when Rebecca and her father first arrive at this seemingly deserted house. It has elements of horror before it becomes a powerful political drama about injustice and loss. The acting is strong by both leading actors, but it is Souad Faress as the enigmatic Palestinian woman that steals the show, and the film is worth seeing just for her beautifully dignified performance alone.

 

STING

Kiah Roache-Turner’s stylish horror combines scares with laughs in equal measure. It is an Australian film, but the action takes place in a snow-covered New York, where a mysterious egg falls from the skies and lands in an old apartment building during a stormy night. A little spider comes out the egg and is soon adopted by Charlotte (Alyla Browne), a lonely 12-year-old obsessed with comic books, who calls her new pet “Sting”. But Sting, in similar fashion to Audrey in A LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS, has a huge appetite and is eager to devour anything in sight…

Rising star Browne (she is also in FURIOSA) is terrific as the immensely curious and fearless Charlotte, who puts the whole neighbourhood in danger thanks to her dangerous pet. “Couldn’t you get a dog instead of a spider as a pet?” a pest controller asks as he is about to be attacked by the gigantic arachnoid. It is well designed and is perfectly complimented by strong visual effects. It will give a lot of pleasure particularly to the fans of the genre.

 

MALUM + HUNT HER KILL HER

This horror double bill is now available on Blu-ray and on digital platforms following last month’s cinema release and is ideal late-night entertainment.

 

MALUM: Anthony Diblasi makes good use of his single location in this atmospheric horror, which takes place in an empty police station. Rookie police officer Jessica (Jessica Sula) volunteers to take the last shift at the station where her father, also an officer, met his violent death following an assignment to arrest members of a vicious cult. She is all alone in this spooky place, and she soon begins to experience supernatural occurrences…

It is a bit repetitive, but Sula’s engaging performance makes this quite watchable.

HUNT HER KILL HER: Another horror with a woman left on her own devices to fight for survival. Karen (Natalie Terrazzino) is the new night shift janitor in a vast warehouse, but soon enough she realises she is not alone. A group of masked men enter the building, and the cat and mouse game begins…

Terrazino is terrific as the feisty heroine, who finds herself in the most vulnerable and dangerous predicament amongst this sadistic group of men. It is a satisfying experience with an unpredictable twist.

 

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