Meet The Parents: A Get Out review.

Directed by: Jordan Peele.

Starring: Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, Bradley Whitford, Caleb Landry Jones, Stephen Root, Lil Rel Howery, Catherine Keener.

Jordan Peele will most likely be familiar to you as one half of US comedy duo Key & Peele, he is also apparently now a ridiculously talented writer & director as evidenced by his debut feature Get Out.

A young man and his girlfriend, have reached a point in their relationship where he is invited to meet her parents. Awkwardness surrounding their interracial relationship soon gives way to paranoia as a series of increasingly disturbing discoveries lead him to a truth that he never could have imagined.

Get Out is a remarkably assured directorial debut. It is smart, funny, cuttingly incisive and also ticks the boxes of being a damn fine horror film to boot. The social commentary on overcompensating, middle-class white liberal attitudes to acceptance of race being more damaging than good, starts as cringing viewing subsiding into something far more sinister as the film progresses and Daniel Kaluuya’s Chris starts to become very aware that something is very wrong in the Armitage household.

Daniel Kaluuya is excellent as photographer Chris, deftly conveying the awkwardness of that initial meet-the-parents scenario compounded even more by the overly right-on liberal parents of his girlfriend played by the equally awesome Bradley Whitford & Catherine Keener, He handles the part with a steady hand. Kaluuya has impressed me with his performances dating back to his acting and writing work on UK teen drama Skins and his brilliant turn in Charlie Brooker anthology show Black Mirror, to see him getting and slaying bigger roles in Hollywood is very heartening. Some great comic relief is supplied by Lil Rel Howery’s Rod, the voice of reason throughout the film, raising every persons ingrained concern for our leads predicament with some genuine belly laughs on one or two occasions, it brings some welcome comic levity to the proceedings and is delivered brilliantly.

There are few horror films released these days that take so much care in how they are presented, a message they wish to convey but also succeed in their prime goal of being a genuinely great scary flick. Get Out succeeds on all counts in giving us one of the best horror films to come out of the US in recent years. I can’t give enough praise, check this film out ASAP.

Creeper: Eternity In Your Arms album review.

Creeper have spent the past few years carving a reputation for themselves as a band to watch. They have released 3 well received EP’s and gained a reputation as a formidable live band. 2017 sees the release of the Southampton mob’s debut album ‘Eternity In Your Arms’. Granted that even before the albums release, almost half of the songs on the album had already been released on streaming sites, however, the anticipation for something special was high and that anticipation was not, in my opinion, misjudged. The album is slick, really, really slick. The production really does make these already remarkably crafted songs soar. Creeper are not a band who settle for the mundane road most travelled, they have lofty ambitions for their band that may be above their station at this point in their career, however it is these ambitions that will catapult them to worldwide success. There is a flare for the theatric on this album that must be applauded for the fact that bands these day don’t have the stones to try something as outlandishly OTT as some of the material on this album.

The album opens strong with Black Rain, its piano ladened spoken word opening already bristling with a filmic quality that sets the outlying theme of the record suddenly bursting into rock guitar histrionics that can’t help but raise a ‘frickin cool!’ grin, boasting one of the most singalong chorus I have heard In recent years, it’s an exceptionally positive way to kick a debut record into gear. Poison Pens bursts into Hardcore punk group vocals over buzzsaw guitars that bring to mind the work of AFI in their Nitro heydays, driving and aggressive, it kicks ass. 

We are in recognisable ground for the next four tracks as they have all previously been released prior to the record coming out. Suzanne again shows just how talented Creeper are at crafting songs with choruses to die for, hook ladened, memorable and eminently singalong in nature, I must say that I did prefer the original Don Henley inspired chorus to this song but due to apparent legal matters this has changed for the songs album release which is a shame. Hiding With Boys contains some of the most wonderfully mixed harmonies on the album with a driving beat that can’t help but provoke head nods no matter how hard you may try not to. Creeper display a talent in structuring a lot of words perfectly into the melodies of their songs, a talent they share with another influence that I noticed in the vocal delivery on this album, none other than Meatloaf of all people. Misery sounds to my ears as if it has enjoyed a re-mix and master but not re-recorded from the EP sessions (I may be wrong there), the sound of a Hammond Organ in the background of the verses complimenting the song well, it does sound larger & grander on this record for sure.

Down Bellow is perhaps one of my favourite tracks on the album, again displaying their innate ability to craft melodies and harmonies to die for, all in their debut album! It really is a impressive feat to pull off. Room 309 kicks in reminding me very much of a young My Chemical Romance around the time of their debut album, all driving beats and emotive lyricism with a nod toward hardcore punk but with a more melodic bent. Crickets is incredible and is my actual favourite track on the album which surprised me as it is the track that is most unlike anything else on the album and perhaps the most conventional song in this collection, keyboard player Hannah Greenwood takes vocal duties on this track and wow! Actual goosebumps, her vocal power is both startling and impressive, accompanied by simply a guitar and violin with subtle backing vocals, it is gorgeous. Darling is a brilliantly crafted punk track with an undeniable Alkaline Trio vibe but not enough to be accused of plagiarism. Creeper do share a lot of similarities with the bands that influence them but delivered with their own style and presence to avoid being called copyists, they are most certainly their own beast. Winona Forever is a fun slice of punky pop and playful swipe at Johnny Depps Ill advised Winona Forever tattoo. The band choose to close Eternity In Your Arms with I Choose To Live, a more subdued offering than prior tracks on the album and it’s weakest, perhaps one I wouldn’t personally have picked to close to the album but considering how strong everything preceding it has been I think that can be forgiven.

Creeper has achieved much with their debut album, it is incredibly crafted, wonderfully produced and will gain them a lot of fans. Roadrunner need to run with this band and push them with all their might as they could be huge. The preceding 3 years have given Creeper the tools they required to make this album possible, to refine their talents to the point of damn near perfection. The EP’s were the rehearsal, Eternity In You Arms is the frickin show.

Creeper’s Eternity In Your Arms is available now on Roadrunner records.

Loving You Is Killing Me: Introducing Creeper.

There is a long history of horror influenced, theatrically inclined bands, bands with a taste for the macabre and the ambition to push the envelope just a little further than their contemporaries. These kinds of bands have always struck a chord with me because in essence they are predominantly made up of horror nerds, outsiders with a vision and the drive to see it to fruition, more often than not they are also vilified as much as they are adored and slapped with lazy, Ill conceived monikers like ‘Emo’ or ‘Goth’ which usually bare no resemblance to the music they play. A lot of these bands hail from the other side of the pond but the latest to grab my attention comes from none other than Southampton. The band are appropriately called Creeper.

Formed in 2014, this punk sextet put out 3 EP’s in the space of 2 years, 2014’s Creeper and 2015’s The Callous Heart & The Stranger. These EP’s along with a impassioned live presence stoked an interest in the band that has gained great momentum in the past 3 years and various media outlets describing them as ‘the next big thing’, without wanting to contribute to hyperbole, there is still undoubtedly something special about this band. The influences are apparent, A love of horror movies is clear to see in their presentation, music videos and in their music itself. Listen to Creeper and you will most certainly hear the influences in their music, The Misfits, AFI, The Damned, Alkaline Trio, The Early output of My Chemical Romance, it is all very clear to spot but not so prevalent to make them a facsimile of any one of those bands, they are very much themselves.

The band has garnered a success in their first 3 years that many would hope to reach in a much longer period of time making music. There is a drive and a chemistry that makes them stand out from the pack and a sense of theatricality and verve that has been sorely missing from modern music. Their 3 EP’s and upcoming album Eternity Of Your Arms form a concept of otherworldliness and prevailing mystery surrounding their hometown and a character that can almost be seen as their mascot, The Stranger, a cloaked being with a deathly pallor that has graced many of their music videos and promo materials. It’s this level of creativity that sets them apart from the pack, that has made people take notice alongside a frankly formidable, high quality body of work for so young a band.

This month see’s the release of Eternity In Your Arms and a headline UK tour to support its release and if the reception of their prior material is anything to go by, Creeper are in for a very good year.

The Blair Flix Project: A I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore review.

Directed by: Macon Blair.

Starring: Melanie Lynskey, Elijah Wood, David Yow, Jane Levy.

Netflix is becoming very on pointe with its acquisition of independent films, it has recently put out a slew of films that may not have had the chance to make their way into people’s homes and possibly suffered from limited cinema releases but were still deserving of an audience. I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore is just one of those films.

Ruth is at odds with her life, her job depresses her and she finds most people either obnoxious or unable to relate to, with the exemption of her loner neighbour Tony. One day Ruth’s house is broken into setting into motion a chain of events that put Ruth in the path of a group of dangerous criminals.

The directorial debut of actor Macon Blair who some may know as the star of underground hit Blue Ruin and perennial collaborator of director Jeremy Saulnier, this film is an assured and confident first directorial effort. The film also written by Blair who has put together a well crafted, offbeat, crime/comedy/thriller that succeeds in holding its audience until its conclusion. There are some very strong moments of violence in this movie that always seem to be tempered slightly with a dark humour that makes it more palatable. A scene in which Ruth & Tony go to retrieve Ruth stolen laptop had me in stitches with Tony’s approach to intimidation.

The lead pairing of Lynskey & Wood as the socially awkward Ruth & Tony was very well chosen, they bounce off each other wonderfully and Wood provides some genuine humour from his performance. Some decent support is offered from the likes of Jane Levy, Devon Graye and The Jesus Lizard frontman David Yow as the criminal trio that Ruth & Tony fall foul with. Macon Blair even affords himself a brief cameo as a book-ruining barfly.

These days I am finding myself drawn to independent releases and Netflix certainly have been scratching that itch for me recently. If you have an hour and half to spare and want to check out a decent crime caper with some dark humour thrown in, a Sundance Film Festival grand jury prize winner no less, look no further.

I Don’t At Home in This World Anymore is currently available to stream on Netflix.

Tale As Old As Time: A Beauty & The Beast (2017) review.

Directed by: Bill Condon.

Starring: Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans, Kevin Kline, Ian McKellen, Ewan McGregor, Josh Gad, Stanley Tucci, Emma Thompson.

Disney launched the first of its batch of live action remakes in recent years with the fantastic Cinderella & Jungle Book. With Beauty & The Beast, can The House Of Mouse pull it out the bag again?

Deep in the forests of rural France, an enchanted castle who’s inhabitants are subject to a terrible curse lies dormant and unseen to the world, until the arrival of strangers from a nearby village setting into motion an unlikely love story.

You need some pretty big cajones to tackle a remake of a film like Beauty & The Beast, it is fervently adored by its fan base who will be expecting nothing but the best from this film, I am very happy to say that is exactly what they will get. Bill Condon has delivered a lovingly realised ode to the animated original and then some. It is utterly gorgeous to look at, particularly in 3D IMAX, an outstanding cast and the centrepiece, those songs we know so well and some new ones also, wonderfully performed by the cast who really do them justice.

Disney has assembled quite the formidable cast for Beauty & The Beast, they are fantastic. Emma Watson brings a charm and elegance to Belle, a role that she was seemingly born to play, she makes it so her own along with a beautiful singing voice that does the part justice. The same can be said for her co-lead Dan Stephens who despite the heavy use of CGI to bring the beast to life, gives the character a sense of humanity and vulnerability, not an easy task to convey without a recognisable physical presence, he carries it off with aplomb. The partnership of Luke Evans & Josh Gad’s Gaston & LeFou is inspired, the two gel brilliantly. Evans über masculine caveman chews the scenery with absolute glee also displaying an impressive vocal range, one of the strongest in the whole film to boot. Gad’s LeFou, gathering all sorts of ridiculous tabloid level commentary prior to the film’s release is a highlight of the film. His servile adoration of his bestie Gaston is realised with some playfully delivered moments & lines, very much self-aware. The furore surrounding the characters sexuality, as much of a non-issue as it is, is played ambiguously for the most part, more a knowing wink than anything. Gad being a veteran musical actor after his stint in Book Of Mormon on Broadway unsurprisingly slays his vocal delivery throughout. Some stellar support is added by the likes of Ewan McGregor, Sir Ian McKellan, Emma Thompson, Kevin Kline, it really is a breathtaking ensemble cast, perfectly casted I might add.

It also has to be said of Beauty & The Beast, it’s frickin beautiful to look at, like actually jaw dropping at times. The gothic architecture and styling of the castle, all dark and brooding, boldly contrasted by the bright & ornate living antiques, for cinephiles out there, there is even a nod to Jean Cocteau’s surreal 1946 film La Belle et la Bête in the castles decor. The song sequences in particular are impressive. From a stand point of spectacle ‘Be Our Guest’ & ‘Beauty & The Beast’ really do stand out as proper visual feasts. From a stand point of staging and choreography, ‘Gaston’ & ‘Kill The Beast’ feel straight out of Broadway, very slick, very stylish and polished. This is another film that I would wholeheartedly suggest you experience in 3D IMAX, I don’t say it of many films but Beauty & The Beast is a true showcase of the technology, beautiful, immersive and captivating from start to finish.

Fans of the original animated film can breathe a sigh of relief, they pulled it off again. Beauty & The Beast is an absolute joy, to see something so loved and so ingrained in modern culture treated with such care and attention is heartening for Disneys future live action remake output.

Danger 5: The best TV comedy you’ve never seen.

I came across Danger 5 on the advice of a friend last year and watched the whole thing in one sitting on Netflix, it takes a damn good comedy show to do that. Featuring deliberately dodgy acting, a Colonel with an eagles head who maintains order with his ‘sit down gun’, Nazi dinosaurs and the weekly mission to kill Hitler. Welcome to the deliciously barking world of Danger 5.

The Danger 5 are a group of undercover operatives in a alternate, skewed take on World War 2, tasked with the weekly mission of killing Hitler by their commanding officer Colonel Chestbridge, a part man/part eagle with with a short fuse. How’s that for a frickin premise?!

An Australian production from the minds of Dario Russo & David Ashby, Danger 5 has a sense of humour that hits so many right notes during the course of one episode that it leaves your head spinning and your face hurting from laughing so much, well, if you have a really weird sense of humour which I do. Taking influence from cheesy action movies of the 60’s, a stylistic approach similar to that of British comedy Garth Merenghi’s Darkplace which applied a similar convention to 70’s/80’s horror, Danger 5 is certainly anything but routine. It is an absurdist time-bubble, a surreal B-movie alike pastiche of WWII pulp novellas & spy movies that feels like a Pythonesque fever dream, in a very good way. The comedy is delivered in such a deadpan, straight faced manner that juxtaposes the outright oddness to absolute perfection.

Danger 5 has the unique strength going for it in that it is relatively unknown outside its native country and thus comes as a complete surprise, one of those ‘how the hell did I not hear of this sooner’ kind of shows. Personally when a show creeps up on me like that, completely from leftfield, without fanfare and grabs my attention so completely, I become enamoured. I felt the same way when I discovered shows like Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace and Snuffbox, well crafted under the radar gems with an off-kilter approach, the guts to try something different and the talent to exceed and defy expectation. 

It’s not to say that Danger 5 will be everyone’s cup of tea, it won’t be. It’s surreal humour may well be too strange for some palettes, however, if you like your comedy bizarre, fiercely original and very funny, Danger 5 may be right up your ally.

A Life Suspended: A Moonlight review.

Directed by: Barry Jenkins.

Starring: Trevante Rhodes, André Holland, Janelle Monáe, Naomie Harris, Mahershala Ali, Ashton Sanders.

There is an elevated sense of expectation in going to see a movie after it has received a great deal of critical success, a lot in the case of Moonlight after the quite extraordinary events of last months Oscar ceremony. Was Moonlight worthy of the award of awards?

Moonlight charts the life of a young man from childhood to adulthood as he navigates through a life with a drug abusing mother, a school life in which he is ostracised & bullied and his own personal sexual awakening.

There are some fantastic performances in this film. All 3 actors who portray Chiron throughout his life are great, Ashton Sanders who plays teenage Chiron, all awkward teenage angst and simmering rage at a life he feels completely isolated from. Adult Chiron, played by Trevante Rhodes is living a charade as a hardened and cold man, hiding from his past and in many respects, himself, coming to a self-realisation when he reconnects with a childhood friend. Mahershala Ali’s Best Supporting Actor Award was well earned as Juan, even if his screen time is relatively short. Juan trying to act as a needed father figure to young Chiron whilst also being very aware that he is more than a little to blame for the young man’s plight, a performance tinged with affection, guilt and sense of obligation is deftly handled by Ali. Praise should also be levelled at Naomie Harris for her portrayal of Chiron’s drug addled mother, a woman who becomes increasingly crippled by her dependency as Chiron grows, so much so as to alienate her son when he needs a mother the most.

As with all films that elevate themselves to the status Moonlight has achieved, there is more more under the surface to this film. On the surface is an affecting story of a young man struggling through a life less than ideal but beneath is an incredibly intricate portrait of not living a life that is true to ones self. Chiron, living his life without a stable father figure finds himself becoming in his adulthood the same as the only semi-paternal figure he had in his childhood, all the while not acting upon his own suppressed sexuality.

Moonlight was most certainly deserving of the praise that it had received this awards season, it is a remarkable piece of work. Beautifully shot, wonderfully acted and remarkably affecting. Believe the hype, it is most certainly deserved.