The Black Phone

The Grabber in a mask

The Black Phone is the movie Scott Derrickson went off to direct after leaving Dr Strange in the Multiverse of Madness due to “creative differences”. He’d directed the first Dr Strange, a massive financial success, so you’d have thought the Marvel guys would cut him a bit more slack than they ultimately were prepared to. Anyway, on to the next project, a strange (pun intended) genre-crash horror movie that’s not that frightening, nor does it seem intended to be. Someone is kidnapping kids. Even big tough kids are disappearing into the van of some weird guy who leaves behind telltale black balloons. The kids are never seen again. Enter our milquetoast hero, Finney … Read more

Zeros and Ones

Ethan Hawke as JJ the soldier

Zeros and Ones starts with a to-camera introduction by Ethan Hawke expressing how honoured he feels to be working with director/writer Abel Ferrara. After namechecking Willem Dafoe, who’s been Ferrara’s go-to for the past few years, and asserting that an actor’s greatest gift (a well known actor, he means) is being able to champion talent, he reaches forward and clicks the switch on the camera to the off position. The movie proper starts. This gush is all written by Ferrara, of course, as is the concluding epilogue Hawke also delivers, just the first instance of Ferrara messing with the mind of his audience, which isn’t about to get an easy ride. Zeros and … Read more

11 February 2013-02-11

beasts 5

Out in the UK This Week Beasts of the Southern Wild (StudioCanal, cert 12, Blu-ray/DVD) It’s generated a gazillion column inches, tweets and web-posts, and you are now pretty much obliged to see what is effectively a 21st century Huckleberry Finn story, set in the entirely atmospheric waterworld of the bayou below the levees where hardscrabble folk scratch out an existence, preferring near poverty in the Gulf of Mexico to destitution in the big city. Realism and magic realism aren’t natural stylistic partners – scenes of incoming storms ravaging the bayou sit alongside shots of the mythical beast the aurochs – but director Benh Zeitlin gets them to dance using six-year-old Quvenzhané Wallis … Read more

Before Sunset


This 2004 follow-up to Richard Linlater’s 1995 Before Sunrise is a first-date movie for people who fancy themselves as having more going on upstairs. But grey matter to one side, do you need to have seen the first film to enjoy the second? Probably not, though it helps to know that in Before Sunrise Ethan Hawke had fulfilled every heterosexual male InterRailer’s wildest fantasy – by meeting the stomach-churningly beautiful, witty and, very important, French Julie Delpy on a train and having a night of flirtatious intellectual chat and wild adventure with her. By the end of Before Sunrise both parties are agreed – it’s love and they are absolutely definitely going to … Read more