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Shaken Not Stirred: Aaron Taylor-Johnson is Reported Frontrunner For Next James Bond

Posted By themoviesleuth 7 hours ago on Entertainment

Image courtesy Marvel Studios The ever evolving rumor mill for James Bond casting seems to be active again. Today, there's a rumor swirling that Aaron Taylor-Johnson has all but signed on to join the next iteration of the action heavy spy series. He would be taking over after Daniel Craig recently retired from the role after the highly successful No Time to Die which was his final outing as the character. While nothing has been finalized or confirmed, it looks like the news may have some truth behind it. Apparently, he auditioned for the role and Barbara Broccoli and her execs were highly impressed with his skills. He recently tried out for the part at Pinewood Studios. Johnson is definitely used to starring in big budget box office hits. He previously starred in Godzilla, the Kick Ass trilogy, and Avengers: Age of Ultron as Quicksilver. His reps have not confirmed the potential casting news. However, it seems that those behind the 007 series are looking to go for a much younger version of James Bond as its said that this will once again reboot and retool the character to a greener, less experienced secret agent. Obviously, we'll update as we hear more about their next step in bringing Bond back to the screen yet again. There has been no official announcement on when the character will be back in cinemas. -CG (function() { var zergnet = document.createElement('script'); zergnet.type = 'text/javascript'; zergnet.async = true; zergnet.src = (document.location.protocol == "https:" ? "https:" : "http:") + '//'; var znscr = document.getElementsByTagName('script')[0]; znscr.parentNode.insertBefore(zergnet, znscr); })();

Cinematic Releases: The Silent Twins (2022) - Reviewed

Posted By themoviesleuth 1 day 1 hour 43 minutes ago on Entertainment

Courtesy of Focus FeaturesThe strange but true story of Welsh identical twin sisters June and Jennifer Gibbons, dubbed The Silent Twins after investigative journalist Marjorie Wallace’s 1986 nonfiction book brought their tale into the public eye, told of two girls who made a lifelong pact to remain totally dead silent and only speak to each other in private and/or in code.  The story of two Black children living with their parents, sisters Greta, Rosie and brother David who found themselves ostracized at the largely White school they attended, the two eventually began speaking in increasingly unintelligible idioglossia no one else could understand and grew more withdrawn from their fellow classmates and siblings.   After failed attempts at therapy and separating the duo, June and Jennifer tried their hand at writing books and soon pooled together enough unemployment benefits to publish a novel entitled The Pepsi-Cola Addict.  Despite their minor successes, the two eventually got involved in drugs, alcohol and vandalism landing them in infamous Broadmoor Hospital (where Bronson stayed at one point) for eleven years.  During that time, Marjorie Wallace caught up with the twins and made national headlines.  Soon after The Silent Twins became something of a media sensation and on the BBC a 1986 TV film based on the book was made.  Years later a documentary film Silent Twin – Without My Shadow came about and around 2011 a stage play was made. When the time came for a major motion picture to be made of this stranger-than-fiction coming-of-age tale awash in still unexplained neuroses and mental health disorders, The Silent Twins big screen adaptation penned by Andrea Seigel could’ve been another by the numbers dramatic procedural destined for awards bait before eventually languishing on repeat telecasts on the Lifetime Network.  But in the hands of Polish director Agnieszka Smoczyńska, best known for her comedy-horror mermaid musical The Lure followed by the surreal identity crisis drama Fugue, this British-Polish co-production represents the director’s third (and first English language) feature simply put is one of the best films of the year next to no one saw or talked about.  A crying shame as it cements Smoczyńska arguably as the best Polish film director working today. Opening on a playful stop-motion animated title-sequence that soon becomes a recurring bookending motif throughout the picture, The Silent Twins plunges us into the colorful, bright and talky world shared between June (Letitia Wright) and Jennifer Gibbons (Tamara Lawrance) before violently yanking us back into the cold, sterile, sickly blue-green reality inhabited by their fellow humans.  Their parents Gloria (Nadine Marshall) and Aubrey (Treva Etienne) have their hands in the as to what to do with more troubling news from parent-teacher conferences and soon school therapist Tim Thomas (Ben Wheatley stalwart Michael Smiley) tries unsuccessfully to communicate with The Silent Twins and/or separating them.  Eventually their foray into drugs, sex and vandalism landing them in an asylum makes the film a steady descent into surreal madness with distinct callbacks to the director’s previous works that are as dark as anything she’s ever rendered. Winner of the Golden Lions Award at the Gdynia Film Festival and a top-to-bottom cinematic tour-de-force from the new Polish master featuring arresting and dynamic camerawork from right hand man Jakub Kijowski (The Lure; Fugue) in their first 1.66:1 film together, visually The Silent Twins is stunning.  Featuring many of the director’s dark blue-green lit asides throughout peppering her first two features interspersed with bright and colorful vistas of the titular Silent Twins frolicking in fantasyland, the film’s visual aesthetic like the director’s prior features is striking in the contrast between warm saccharine dream and cold near-colorless reality.  There’s a wealth of camera movement that will remind some viewers of Benoit Debie’s rotating top-down camerawork for Gaspar Noe’s Enter the Void and soon even the film’s stop-motion animated sequences take on darker tones. Then there’s the film’s electronic score by Marcin Macuk and Zuzanna Wronska who both contributed to the iconic soundtrack to The Lurewhich is just as powerful of an artistic and dramatic component to The Silent Twins as is the chilly cinematography.  Much like The Lure, the score flirts with playful candy-colored dreamland, itching to burst into song and leaving an overall character over the proceedings.  Contributing original songs as well, some of which play over key montages which somehow or another end up in that same Polish nightclub that opened The Lure and cameoed in Fugue, Smoczyńska’s unrelenting uncompromising yet nonjudgmental observance of this most unusual twosome takes on a musicality that further blurs our expectations of what the drama or the escapist musical should offer. Performance-wise Letitia Wright and Tamara Lawrance all but completely submit themselves to the roles of June and Jennifer who are alive, cheerful and talkative in secret but forlorn and mute out in public.  Both actresses are tasked with taking on heavy portrayals of anxiety and distress with more than a few painful-to-watch borderline psychotic fits of hysteria and/or violence.  The grief and frustration on the parents played by Treva Etienne and Nadine Marshall is palpable and soon their dilemma becomes ours as we watch helplessly as The Silent Twins start to fall in with the wrong people.  Michael Smiley is always dependably good though he’s far more subdued here than his craggy scruffy alchemist in A Field in England.  Still, debatably the film’s real star is the director who doles out every eye-defying cinematic trick up her sleeves while making the surreal exercise affecting and involving. Despite the pedigree of the cast and production and relevance of the subject matter, Agnieszka Smoczyńska’s third entry into the Polish Film Institute came and went quickly without much noise at all.  Drifting under the radars of filmgoers thanks to a miniscule release not helped much with a user-friendly trailer hiding the film’s bold idiosyncratic attitude, The Silent Twins disappeared quickly from the public eye before being forgotten.  Whether or not the film finds an audience remains to be seen but for me personally Smoczyńska is something of a filmmaking black angel: a brooding auteur keen on evoking the adolescent female experience onscreen while wallowing in darkness desperately searching for the light.  Despite the minimal returns and absence of dialogue among most filmgoers, this is another brilliant, confident and daring cinematic exercise from the young Polish master cementing her reputation as one of the most exciting and visionary visual artists working today.--Andrew Kotwicki (function() { var zergnet = document.createElement('script'); 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Arrow Video: Two Witches (2021) - Reviewed

Posted By themoviesleuth 1 day 19 hours ago on Entertainment

Courtesy of Arrow FilmsIn addition to unearthing obscure cult gems or restoring renowned classics rereleased in deluxe limited editions, Arrow Video has tended towards highlighting the efforts of unique first-time newcomers from around the world.  Rather than stay entrenched in the past, Arrow continues to introduce new independent or otherwise underground filmmakers whose works likely wouldn’t be seen or be made easily available.  Their latest limited-edition package comes in the form of Parisian writer-director Pierre Tsigaridis’ feature-film debut: the bilateral semi-anthological scare fest Two Witches.  While not necessarily a prime-rib cut, this colorful and atmospheric stab at indie-horror filmmaking does offer its own flavorful share of cutlets of a more bloody-gory kind. Split cleanly in half narratively but sharing the same chronological space and timeline, this lean-mean spine-tingler zeroes in on two different women whose lives are intersected by what appear to be the actions of witchery.  In the first half, pregnant young mother Sarah (Belle Adams) is dining with her boorish unfeeling boyfriend Simon (Ian Michaels) when she gets the evil eye from a creepy old woman first inside the restaurant and then again outside.  Dismissing her fears, the couple convenes with their hip friends Dustin (Tim Fox) and Melissa (Dina Silva) who make the hairbrained mistake of screwing around with a Ouija board, further conjuring occult forces.   In the meantime, the film crosscuts to graduate school student Rachel (Kristina Klebe) frustratedly contending with her troubled sex-kitten roommate Masha (Rebekah Kennedy) who claims she’s set to inherit supernatural powers from her witch grandmother currently on her deathbed.  Eventually the flaky Masha visits Rachel’s workplace and decides to steal Rachel’s personal stories of an abusive former relationship and pass it off as her own, sowing further division as what seems to be a form of demonic possession taking hold of Masha.  Though divided nearly in half replete with title cards designating each chapter, in time these two disparate plot threads and co-existing characters will invariably cross paths in a grisly battle to the end. Shooting, editing and scoring much of it himself with the help of Gioacchino Marincola, Pierre Tsigaridis puts himself out front and center as a new voice in horror to keep your eyes on.  Co-written by Maxime Rancon and fellow co-star Kristina Klebe, this homegrown joint family effort represents a taut shoestring debut with reliance on practical makeup effects rather than succumbing to the shortcomings of CGI rendering.  Operating a bit like a one man band, Pierre Tsigaridis’ debut shows a startling amount of confidence, pushing ahead with potential sequels that may or may not happen while giving his own unique spin on the tried but true witch horror subgenre. Shot and edited in 2.35:1 on the Arri Alexa, Tsigaridis shows an astute hand for handling the camera while making the most of the limited budgetary means, also channeling a subtle re-rendering of Dominic Harlan’s Grey Clouds from Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut peppered throughout the otherwise electronica soundscape.  Performance wise the ensemble cast of newcomers is mostly fine with Belle Adams making her pregnant mother vulnerable and afraid while Rebekah Kennedy finds her inner succubus as we see the evolution of characters like Tim Fox’s Dustin starting out as an idiot forced by the situation to rise to the occasion.  Though nothing spectacular, horror aficionados will be suitably entertained by this first-time one-man wonderment stoking horror elements of the past while looking ahead to the future.  Though not nearly as strong as some of the other occult cinematic newborns (Jill Gevargizian’s debut The Stylist being a vastly superior comparison), Two Witches is a good way to kill two hours as a horror fan and Arrow Video have assembled a most handsome looking limited package for such an unknown title.  Yes some fans may gripe the efforts of Arrow could’ve been spent on furthering their archaeological dig through the land of cult cinema but Two Witches is a nice little frightener well worth sharing in the company of other like-minded boutique releases tailored towards new release movies we’d likely not know of otherwise.  --Andrew Kotwicki (function() { var zergnet = document.createElement('script'); zergnet.type = 'text/javascript'; zergnet.async = true; zergnet.src = (document.location.protocol == "https:" ? "https:" : "http:") + '//'; var znscr = document.getElementsByTagName('script')[0]; znscr.parentNode.insertBefore(zergnet, znscr); })();

Definitely Not Like The Rest: Tim Burton's Wednesday Topples Stranger Things Season Four Premiere Numbers

Posted By themoviesleuth 2 days ago on Entertainment

Image courtesy NetflixAfter decades, interest is still high for The Addams Family. Years after they had their last live action film and after a successful animated movie, the Addams return for a new series on Netflix from the king of goth, Tim Burton. Fortunately for Burton, the show is doing massive numbers on the streaming outlet and is filling a void that was left by Sabrina after its cancellation. These new tales of Wednesday Addams seem to be ready to also fill in a blank while viewers await the final season of Stranger Things. The brand new show has toppled Stranger Things premiere numbers by debuting with over 341.23 million hours logged in its first week. Season four of Stranger Things previously held that record with 335 million hours in its first week of streaming. However, Wednesday still has an uphill battle to beat Squid Game's  massive record of 571.9 million hours of viewing during its premiere. Wednesday was also able to break into the top 10 in 93 different countries and has been viewed in over 50 million homes. When speaking with TVLine, creators Al Gough and Miles Millar said they are really hoping for a second season:"The series is really about a girl who sees the world in black and white and learning there are shades of gray. I think like any relationship or any friendship it can get complicated by other factors. It's never going to be smooth sailing." said Gough. -CG  (function() { var zergnet = document.createElement('script'); zergnet.type = 'text/javascript'; zergnet.async = true; zergnet.src = (document.location.protocol == "https:" ? "https:" : "http:") + '//'; var znscr = document.getElementsByTagName('script')[0]; znscr.parentNode.insertBefore(zergnet, znscr); })();

Cinematic Releases: Violent Night (2022) - Reviewed

Posted By themoviesleuth 3 days ago on Entertainment

Photo courtesy of Universal Pictures People tend to have polarizing opinions about traditional Christmas films.  They’re warm, happy hugs to some, and trite, overly cheery drivel to others.  Not all Christmas films are created equal, however.  From Bad Santa to Krampus, filmmakers have chosen to depict Christmas in a variety of unconventional ways to appeal to even the staunchest Christmas film hater.  Director Tommy Wirkola’s Violent Night is yet another of these off-kilter films proving there’s a Christmas film for everyone, and while the Die Hard comparisons are inevitable, it has a personality and charm that is all its own. The film opens in a mostly empty pub on Christmas Eve, where we meet our protagonist whose appetite for booze surpasses his craving for cookies:  Santa Claus (David Harbour).  This isn’t the jolly St. Nick of lore, however — quite the contrary.  He’s a weathered, cantankerous soul who ponders to the bartender if this Christmas will be his last, and after the predicament he finds himself in delivering presents that evening, this may very well be the case.  He visits a wealthy family in the midst of an armed hostage situation, and realizes he’s in danger.  Unluckily for him, his “Christmas magic” is running low and his reindeer abandon him, leaving him to fend for himself.  While mercenaries led by a vicious “Mr. Scrooge” (John Leguizamo) attempt to steal the family’s vast fortune, Santa must fight to stay alive and rescue the family before it’s too late.  Fortunately, this isn’t Santa’s first rodeo and the bad guys start to massively regret being on his “naughty list.” Violent Night has an irreverence about it that’s gritty and amusing, but also manages to scream “Christmas” consistently throughout, and it creates an interesting juxtaposition.  While some films that don’t follow the traditional Christmas film formula treat the festive elements in it as secondary, this one keeps them all at the forefront, even in its most brutal moments.  There are holiday-heavy visual gags aplenty in the film and they all work gloriously.  Traditional Christmas decorations like light-up stars and candy canes are used as makeshift murder weapons in some creatively gory kill scenes, making much of the violence in the film wickedly funny.  There are even scenes that pay homage to Home Alone’s slapstick-infused violence in the not-so-subtlest of ways, and rather than feeling like cheap winks, they seem organic and fun.  Combined with a score that constantly gives nods to classic Christmas songs, it’s impossible to forget this film’s setting, even for a moment. The absurd premise completely works thanks to its strong cast.  David Harbour is an especially indispensable asset — so much so that it’s difficult to imagine anyone else as this Santa.  His line delivery and physicality are perfect as a rough-around-the-edges, cynical hero.  The film even gives Santa a Viking backstory to explain why this beloved icon is so good at kicking ass, and Harbour is entirely convincing as a former barbarian who knows how to skillfully crush skulls with a hammer.  The supporting cast is equally great:  the legendary Beverly D’Angelo plays the ruthless matriarch Gertrude Lightstone who keeps her cool despite her home being invaded, and Edi Patterson is a natural as Gertrude’s selfish, slightly insane daughter Alva.  The despicable members of the Lightstone family are grounded by Gertrude’s son Jason (Alex Hassell) and his separated wife Linda (Alexis Louder), whose daughter together Trudy (Leah Brady) is a force to be reckoned with when the mercenaries try to catch her.  Brady’s scenes with Harbour are especially enjoyable and serve as a catalyst for the audience to see the softer side of this Santa, which in turn gives a bit more dimension to an otherwise fairly straightforward, single-note movie. Violent Night is a fresh, clever take on the unconventional Christmas film.  There is no other that is quite as bloody, but also somehow manages to maintain the Christmas spirit.  It’s nothing deep, but that’s never its intent.  It’s comfortable doing exactly what it does, and does it exceedingly well.  This fast-paced, laugh-out-loud funny action film will keep people entertained throughout, and if they’re in on the joke, chances are very few will leave theaters saying “bah humbug.”—Andrea Riley

Jack In: William Gibson's Neuromancer Getting TV Series Adaptation From Apple TV

Posted By themoviesleuth 4 days ago on Entertainment

Cover art from the Brazilian edition of NeuromancerCourtesy: AlephAfter many, many false starts and failed attempts, it appears that William Gibson's genre-defining cyberpunk novel Neuromancer (and possibly the whole Sprawl Trilogy, if things go well) might finally be making it to the screen. It is no exaggeration to say that Gibson's 1984 novel is surely one of the most influential and iconic sci-fi books ever written: one of the founding texts of the cyberpunk genre, the book that gave us the word "cyberspace" (seriously), and an influence on a whole generation of sci-fi media, from Max Headroom to The Matrix. And yet, for reasons fans have never fully understood, it has proven weirdly difficult to adapt to the screen, despite numerous attempts dating back as far as the late-80s. For a while there were many who thought the novel to be unfilmable, due to how much of it is set in Gibson's virtual-reality realm of cyberspace itself, which would have been very hard to realize on-screen before CGI was up to the task (just ask The Lawnmower Man). But that hasn't been an issue for a long time now, and yet every attempt has still fallen through for one reason or another.Now, according to a report broken yesterday by The Illuminerdi (which has not yet been confirmed by the studio, so take this with a grain of salt), Apple TV is finally ending the decades of preproduction hell, and will adapt Neuromancer as a TV series in 2023. According to the report, William Gibson himself will serve as the series' executive producer, while Graham Roland (Jack Reacher, Lost) will serve as showrunner. Miles Teller has allegedly been offered the lead role of strung-out black-market hacker Case. Personally, as a fan of the novel, I question that casting choice - Teller is a great actor, but I have trouble seeing him as the gaunt, world-weary "console cowboy" who seems like a better fit for someone like a Bill Skarsgård or a Riz Ahmed. But still, Teller is a powerhouse actor who is having quite the moment right now after Top Gun: Maverick, and if he is the kind of lead the series is allegedly courting, that is a good sign that this may be the kind of big-budget series that stands a chance of doing justice to Gibson's high-concept universe of The Sprawl. Photo credit: Amanda Edwards/Getty ImagesIt is also a very good sign that Gibson himself is involved as an executive producer - a title which will hopefully be more than honorary, and will hopefully mean that he is on-board to both protect his universe, and to guide how it is updated. Because it definitely will need updating: Neuromancer was written when the internet age was on the horizon but not yet here, and while a lot of its predictions (cyberspace, VR, digital data being the ultimate commodity, etc) were very accurate and prophetic, some were a bit off the mark, and it would be really interesting to see how Gibson might alter the story to work in a 2023 world (which, let's be honest, is a techno-dystopian hellscape in a lot of ways already, except without the cool cyberpunk fashions).The series has not yet cast any of its other leads - crucially, it has not yet cast the female lead: the cybernetically-enhanced assassin Molly, who was cited by The Wachowski Sisters as a direct influence on The Matrix's Trinity. The Illuminerdi report does, however (again, without citing any sources, so take that for what you will), mention that Apple TV is looking to cast Molly as the one carryover character who would continue on to seasons 2 and 3 if the show is successful, which is a major indicator of the studio's intentions. Specifically, this means that they are looking to adapt Neuromancer as a one-season story, and then adapt the two other novels in the Sprawl Trilogy, Count Zero and Mona Lisa Overdrive, as seasons 2 and 3. The trilogy is a loose one: three novels all set in the same world, but not direct sequels to one another in the sense that they don't follow the same characters from one book to the next. Each book has a different ensemble of leads, with characters recurring and popping up across all of them, and Molly is one of the principle ones, and definitely one of the most memorable and iconic characters in Gibson's universe. In addition to the novels, the Sprawl series also includes three short stories, Johnny Mnemonic, Burning Chrome, and New Rose Hotel, so if the series is a success, Apple TV and Graham Roland will have plenty of source material to work with.A previous cinematic portrayal of The Sprawl,from Johnny MnemonicCourtesy: SonyThe Sprawl is a future Earth where governments have largely collapsed and the world is a dystopian network of cities ruled by corporations and crime syndicates; where data is the ultimate currency and people are cybernetically enhanced, in both body and brain. When you die, your consciousness can be uploaded to cyberspace, where you can live (in a manner of speaking) forever as an AI ghost in the machine, and cyberspace is a virtual-reality realm that you jack into via a port in your skull. Against the backdrop of this cyberpunk dystopia, Case is a down-on-his-luck hacker who is just desperate enough to be recruited by Molly and a mysterious man named Armitage for a very high-stakes, and very high-reward, cyber heist and espionage job. But things are not what they seem, and Case and Molly quickly find themselves in over their heads in a labyrinthine plot spanning both the crime and corporate worlds, leading them across the entirety of the Sprawl, not to mention the darkest corners of cyberspace itself. It's a dense novel with a ton of great world-building, and an episodic nature to its structure which gradually adds up to a grander plot. It would be pretty tricky to adapt well as a single film (hence why the only two film adaptations set in Gibson's Sprawl that have actually gotten made are both based on short stories: Johnny Mnemonic and New Rose Hotel), but it would be perfectly suited to a big-budget streaming series.This Neuromancer TV series looks as though it will cement 2022 and 2023 as quite a moment of resurgence for William Gibson and his brand of cyberpunk: Amazon Prime has been quite successful with their series adaptation of another one of Gibson's (non-Sprawl-related) cyberpunk works, The Peripheral, and this year also saw the 25th anniversary black and white re-release of a previous Gibson film adaptation of one of his Sprawl stories, Johnny Mnemonic, which has been undergoing something of a reappraisal from notorious box-office flop to increasingly-appreciated cult classic. If Neuromancer, the quintessential Gibson novel, ever had a serious chance of making it to the screen, this is surely it. Again, if this report pans out, and the project actually makes it to production this time, unlike so many past attempts.We will keep you updated!- Christopher S. JordanShare this article!(function() { var zergnet = document.createElement('script'); zergnet.type = 'text/javascript'; zergnet.async = true; zergnet.src = (document.location.protocol == "https:" ? "https:" : "http:") + '//'; var znscr = document.getElementsByTagName('script')[0]; znscr.parentNode.insertBefore(zergnet, znscr); })();

Altered Innocence: Hypnosis (2020) - Reviewed

Posted By themoviesleuth 4 days ago on Entertainment

Courtesy of Altered InnocenceIndependent distributor Altered Innocence, recently paired up with Vinegar Syndrome and their boutique releasing blu-ray company as a sublabel, primarily specializes in LGBTQ and coming-of-age films such as The Wild Boys, After Blue (Dirty Paradise) and the restored version of Arrebato.  One of their most recent releases is a subtly beguiling Russian coming-of-age psychological drama from prolific director Valery Todorovskiy, Hypnosis.  A film that doesn’t quite reach the artistic heights of Karen Shakhnazarov’s Courieror the biblically fanatical weathers of Kirill Serebrennikov’s The Student but manages to find its own footing in the snowbank, Hypnosis is a wintery widescreen Moscow-set effort that winds up posing more questions than it answers as its sleepwalking teenage hero tumbles down a mysterious internal rabbit hole. Nightly, teenage lad Misha (Sergey Giro) rolls out of bed in boxers and sleepwalks out of his family apartment into the cold Moscow open air without reason or recollection as he wakes up in strange places.  A brooding, withdrawn boy alienated by his parents who themselves can’t seem to figure out how to curtail their son’s disorder, Misha is administered treatment under the supervision of accomplished hypnotherapist Dr. Volkov (Maksim Sukhanov).  Defiant as ever, Misha claims to be unhypnotizable but nevertheless stays on board warming up to Volkov as a prospective pupil eager to learn the ways of hypnotizing others.  During his time in treatment mingling with other patients he’s struck by a young girl named Polina (Polina Galkina) whom he quickly forms a bond with.  But when she abruptly disappears and Misha tries to find her, his investigation leads him down towards a path where the lines between reality and dream are indecipherable. Loosely based on the director’s own childhood experiences as a 12-year-old sent to renowned Soviet hypnotist Vladimir Raikov to better cope with claustrophobia and co-written with the help of Lubov Mulmenko, Hypnosis while never fully breaking into the terrain of the psychological thriller is nevertheless a confounding slowly burnt psychodrama that’s at once ethereal and somewhat melancholy.  Utilizing the snow-covered chilly Moscow as a backdrop for Misha’s existential loneliness inside a carefully managed system, the film somehow or another transforms Russia’s grandest city into the increasingly paranoid and delusional headspace of the protagonist.  Over the course of the movie we’re deliberately as confused and afraid as the film’s troubled hero trying to figure out what’s happening to him. As aforementioned, this is a lush panoramic 2.35:1 widescreen effort lensed beautifully and occasionally asymmetrically by Jean-Noël Mustonen, capturing the interiors of the apartment complexes within Moscow in subtle shades of grey, green and orange especially during nighttime scenes.  At times the exterior framing of balconies and stairwells are shot in such a way that we feel ourselves being threatened and turning inward with Misha.  One particular scene that catches the eye involves Misha dangling off the edge of a balcony as the doctor tries to talk him down from jumping, shot in such a way that the chances of falling feel overwhelming visually.  Equally striking is the subtle electronic score by Barbarian composer Anna Drubich who has already established herself as one of the premier horror film soundtrack writers and then some.  Performance-wise the cast is fine with first-time actor Sergey Giro imbuing the boy with a Fyodor Dunayevsky youthful disobedience.  The film really catches fire however when it posits Sergey against accomplished and formidable actor Maksim Sukhanov of The Horde.  Intimidating and oversized but possessing a clinical complete control over his patients (and soon us), Sukhanov makes the hypnotist a figure to look up to in wonderment and later some measure of fear when it appears not all is what it seems.More interesting and fascinating than piercing or searing, the quietly unsettling and haunted Hypnosis is at once a personal confession from the director as well as a genre-hybrid of the coming-of-age film and the psychological thriller deep in the heart of a Moscow winter.  Beautifully composed and performed by the ensemble cast, it is a film that asks us to look further inward whose mysterious aura won’t wow all viewers but will indeed leave behind much food for thought.  Todorovskiy is a director to watch for with a unique personal vision of his country of origin while the film boasts icy yet ornate vistas of his home while zeroing in on aspects of his own life rarely if ever dealt with in Russian cinema.--Andrew Kotwicki (function() { var zergnet = document.createElement('script'); zergnet.type = 'text/javascript'; zergnet.async = true; zergnet.src = (document.location.protocol == "https:" ? 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Twilight Time: The Doll of Satan (1969) - Reviewed

Posted By themoviesleuth 468 days ago on Entertainment - Courtesy of Rewind FilmIn the annals of Italian giallo thriller fare dominating movie theaters throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Ferruccio Casapinta’s one-and-done gothic horror as giallo hybrid The Doll of Satan remains among the most overlooked chillers of its kind.  Though many will consider this everything-but-the-kitchen-sink hodgepodge a bit of a giallo themed mess, The Doll of Satan is a rare crossbreed that comes off as a bit overstuff with elements of The Devil’s Rain, old fashioned haunted-house ghost stories and even a touch of Scooby Doo thrown in for good measure.  Staunch giallo consumers will be somewhat bewildered by this exercise but as a genre fan it had a few tricks up its sleeve to make it worth your while.Courtesy of Rewind Film After a young couple ventu

Cinematic Releases: Nine Days (2020) - Reviewed

Posted By themoviesleuth 469 days ago on Entertainment - Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics In one of the strangest yet most fascinatingly visionary films of an already bizarre year for movies shuttered on and off by the COVID-19 pandemic comes the long delayed and eagerly anticipated debut of commercial Japanese-Brazilian writer-director Edson Oda, Nine Days.  Initially premiering at the Sundance Film Festival in February 2020 before being pushed all the way back to July 2021, this surreal paranormal yet quiet and painterly drama offers a new look on the afterlife, reincarnation and what it means to live in general.  Think of it as a live-action Soul of sorts aimed at adults keen on peculiar, idiosyncratic imaginings of what a soul might experience before the moment of conception. Within the midst of a vast desert landscape

New To Blu: Profile (2021) - Reviewed

Posted By themoviesleuth 470 days ago on Entertainment - Social media finds its way to the screen with this week's release of Profile on blu-ray. Initially screened in 2018, the movie was pushed to a 2021 cinematic release but struggled due to the coronavirus pandemic and was moved to the streaming market. This week it finally hits blu-ray after 3 years. Much like 2018's Searching, viewers are taken down the rabbit hole of the evils of Facebook and Skype as a journalist is sucked into a world of terrorism and possible human trafficking. Director Timur Bekmambetov (Night Watch, Wanted) switches the scope of his typical action fare to one of modern commentary that shows how Islamic terrorists use the web to scour for new recruits and female victims. Reportedly based on a true story, Profile is a tension laced dose of reality that gives us an