House of Darkness

Hap and Mina sitting together

Neil LaBute made his name first as a playwright then as a film-maker interested in exploring the codes of masculinity, some suddenly toxic, some still holding up OK(ish), in a culture that seemed to have moved on faster than some men were able to. In the Company of Men (1997) and Your Friends & Neighbours (1997) were his first two movies and are still sources of high-octane neat LaBute, if that’s what you’re after. He’s broadened his range and taken on gun-for-hire jobs in the interim but again and again returns to this same question of the male in trouble. Which brings us to House of Darkness, a tale of beta-male overreach enabled … Read more

Wild Indian

Makwa as the grown-up Michael

Wild Indian starts out looking like it’s going to be a film about a troubled kid, abused at home, struggling at school, who suddenly takes matters into his own hands and does something heinous. It turns out to be a film about the two grown-ups involved in that heinous event – the guy who did it, and the friend who was there when it happened. We first meet Makwa (Phoenix Wilson) and Ted-o (Julian Gopal), a pair of Native American kids cusping on puberty. Makwa isn’t having too good a time of it – beaten at home, bullied at school, unable to get the girl he fancies – and in a moment of … Read more

Still Alice

Kristen Stewart and Julianne Moore in Still Alice

A super confident woman, top of her game, a linguistics professor, one day discovers herself grasping for a word while she’s giving a lecture. This being the movies, where a cough in one scene leads to coughing up blood in the next, we automatically suspect she’s got Alzheimer’s. The title providing another nudge (why Still?). And so it turns out, in a movie that seems determined to put a polish on the disease of the week movie, and largely succeeds. Polish number one is that it’s not just any old Alzheimer’s but familial Alzheimer’s, in which the gene – should you have been unlucky enough to have inherited it from an affected parent … Read more

Black Rock

Lake Bell, Kate Bosworth and Katie Aselton in Black Rock

Three young women are chased around an island by three crazed ex-soldier guys in Katie Aselton’s boo-goes-there horror story which would slot nicely into the big book of feminist films if it weren’t for the gratuitous (oh come on) nudity. Not that there’s anything wrong with god-given nakedness. But back to the film. Directed by Aselton and co-written with her partner, Mark Duplass, Black Rock takes three old schoolfriends, Aselton, Lake Bell and Katie Bosworth, sends them off to a remote island they used to visit as kids, but not before pointing out that one of the three did something bad with another of the trio’s boyfriend some years back, and that the … Read more