HEREDITARY ???? (Cert 15, 127mins)
And Hereditary is a beautifully shot, brilliantly acted and smartly written supernatural chiller which suggests we are entering a new golden age of the scary movie.
Toni Collette plays Annie Graham, a troubled artist who constructs miniature models of buildings in her attic studio.
Her elderly mother has just died in the upstairs bedroom, leaving behind a collection of strange books about the spirit world.
In a powerful speech at a support group, Annie reveals a family history of mental illness and relates how her mother subjected her to years of emotional abuse.
This could explain why she is finding it so hard to grieve and is neglecting her two children by hiding away in her studio.
Her miniature world, it seems, is the only realm she can control. But it is not just Annie who had been badly affected by the old lady.
When her haunted-looking daughter Charlie (Milly Shapiro) sees a pigeon crash into her classroom window, she nips out and snips its head off with a pair of scissors, adding it to a weird collection of totems she is amassing.
And when she appears to see Granny alive and well we wonder whether this is a manifestation of the spirit world or whether the old family curse of mental illness has struck.
Meanwhile her son Peter (Alex Wolff) seems strangely detached from his grandmother’s death. But all is not well between him and his odd mother.
And when Annie starts contacting the other side his laid-back father (Gabriel Byrne) suspects his wife is finally descending into madness.
The Hereditary (2018)
But to say any more would spoil the fun. Hereditary offers very different types of chills to recent horror series such as Saw, Insidious or Annabelle.
There is no torture scene, no jump scares, no ill-advised trips to a dark basement and at no point does an antique children’s toy suddenly spring into life.
First-time director Ari Aster is influenced by the gritty family horror of the late 1960s and early 1970s and the writing and acting are shockingly good for a horror film.
Like The Exorcist, The Omen and Rosemary’s Baby, Hereditary takes its time getting around to the supernatural.
But after the first shock (which is one of the grimmest scenes I have ever seen in a horror movie) the slow build-up begins to pay off.
If we hadn’t become so invested in these characters, the second half of the film would appear laughably over the top but here the supernatural feels horribly real.
THE HAPPY PRINCE ??? (Cert 15, 105mins)
It took Rupert Everett 10 years to make his fi lm about Oscar Wilde’s final years. And you can feel that burning passion in his brilliant performance as the writer and famous wit.
On this evidence, if Everett hadn’t wasted his best years hanging around with Madonna in New York, he would now be recognised as one of this nation’s finest living actors.
Everett, who wrote and directed the film, ambitiously frames it with Wilde’s story of The Happy Prince.
In flashbacks Wilde tells the story to his own children in London and to two street urchins in Paris, where he fl ed after serving a two-year sentence at Reading Gaol for “gross indecency with men” .
There is also a long middle section where Wilde’s lover Bosie (an excellent Colin Morgan) joins him in Naples where they bicker and blow through the young aristocrat’s allowance. Wilde fans will no doubt pore over every beautifully lit frame.
Despite Everett’s brilliant performance I am less convinced of Everett’s talents as a writer and director. He is clearly outraged by the injustice of Wilde’s fall from grace but never quite forges an emotional connection with the audience.
STUDIO 54 ???? (Cert 15, 99mins)
This engrossing documentary takes us through the doors of Studio 54, the almost mythical New York nightclub that was the ultimate celebrity hangout of the late 1970s.
As director Matt Tyrnauer reveals, its meteoric rise was as much down to the queue outside the club as what happened on the dance floor.
The club operated a brutal door policy, turning people away for not being famous or fashionable enough, so there was always a huge crowd outside on the street, clamouring to get in while news crews filmed them.
And the more ruthless the bouncers became, the more people wanted to get in. Tyrnauer also sits down with Ian Schrager, one of the club’s two founders. His flamboyant partner Steve Rubell died in 1989 so it falls to this self-confessed “introvert” to talk us through the club’s rise and fall.
What he reveals feels more suited to a blockbuster as the club’s eventful 33-month reign involved drugs, intrigue, debauchery, fraud and even the Mafia. Tyrnauer never shies away from asking the difficult questions and you feel Schrager has waited decades to get all of this off his chest.
STANLEY A MAN OF VARIETY ?? (Cert 15, 83mins)
Timothy Spall reveals hidden talents and an unexpected dark side in this bizarre indie drama.
The film, co-written with director Stephen Cookson, is a one-man show that Spall has described as a cross between Kind Hearts And Coronets and Eraserhead.
Here Spall plays what appears to be the sole inmate in a psychiatric hospital who hallucinates encounters with several icons of British comedy.
The make-up is excellent but Spall’s impressions are a mixed bag. His Max Wall and Tony Hancock are entertaining but George Formby seems off-key.
Spall’s enthusiastic turns aren’t enough to power a feature film. With better jokes and a much tighter plot this might have been a less difficult watch.
THE CIAMBRA ???? (Cert 15, 118mins)
This fascinating Italian drama explores a Romani community where a 14-year-old boy called Pio (Pio Amato) is desperate to become head of the family after his father and older brother are sent to jail for burglary.
Writer-director Jonas Carpignano is working very much in the Italian neorealist tradition, using amateur actors and shooting in The Ciambra, the Romani ghetto in Gioia Tauro in Calabria.
He captures a community in transition where the nomadic lifestyle known to Pio’s grandfather is coming to an end and the Roma are eking out a living as hired thieves for local crime lords.
The plot feels loose but the performances are mesmerising.
Read more here: Daily Express :: Entertainment Feedhappy wheels
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