Wolfwalkers

Wolfwalker Mebh with wolves

Kings of Irish animation Cartoon Saloon bring their Irish Folklore Trilogy to a close with Wolfwalkers, a rousing big finish after The Secret of Kells (2009) and Song of the Sea (2014). It’s closer in spirit to Song of the Sea, which was about a shapeshifting sea creature known as a selkie, than Kells, which was set in an Irish monastery where enthusiasm, bizarrely, was shown to trump actual craft and learning when it came to illuminating ancient manuscripts. This time, co-writer/director duo Tomm Moore and Ross Stewart have repurposed an old legend about “wolf men” from Kilkenny, where their studio is based, to tell the story of human beings who release their … Read more

Possessor

Andrea Riseborough

Stab a human being in a vital area of the body and what happens? In most movies, after one clean thrust a modicum of blood seeps decorously into an item of clothing and the victim promptly drops dead. But this is a Brandon Cronenberg movie and Brandon is the heir to David Cronenberg, king of the body horrror. So when someone is stabbed in the neck in the pre-credits sequence to Possessor, the blood-letting is spumungous, nasty, frenzied and inconclusive – this victim isn’t going down without a fight. Even as he dies he’s summoning all his forces to keep the only show he has on the road. That’s what happens. Remarkably, this … Read more

Black Death

Eddie Redmayne and Sean Bean in Black Death

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 27 May Bubonic plague breaks out in California, 1907 On this day in 1907, bubonic plague broke out in California, USA. The disease had ravaged the known world twice before, first in the 6th century, the so-called Justinian plague. It then reoccurred most famously in the pandemic starting in Mongolia and spreading across Asia into Europe, killing a third of the population between 1340 and 1400, the Black Death. In the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries it had erupted frequently though less devastatingly, and even in the 20th century it was not unknown – Australia had 12 major outbreaks between 1900 … Read more

Essex Boys

Sean Bean and Alex Kingston in Essex Boys

    Though not a perfect film by any means, this story about violent pill-dealing mafia wannabes has bags of flavour. It’s based on the Rettendon Range Rover murders, which saw two drug barons and their driver murdered in a car in the back of beyond, in December 1995. Four films have been made (as I write) about the events of that night but this is the first and it’s probably the best (though Bonded by Blood is tasty too). Quite why this one event has spawned so many fictional retellings is a mystery, though my personal theory is that a fair bit of smallscale film-making in the UK is more about laundering … Read more