REVIEW: NEVER LET ME GO

CAST

Keira Knightley (The Hole)
Carey Mulligan (An Education)
Andrew Garfield (The Amazing Spider-man)
Izzy Meikle-Small (Snow White and The Huntsman)
Ella Purnell (Kick-Ass 2)
Charlotte Rampling (Melancholia)
Sally Hawkins (Godzilla)
Andrea Riseborough (Birdman)
Domhnall Gleeson (Ex Machina)

The film begins with on-screen captions explaining that a medical breakthrough in 1952 has permitted the human lifespan to be extended beyond 100 years. It is narrated by 28-year-old Kathy H as she reminisces about her childhood at a boarding school called Hailsham, as well as her adult life after leaving the school. The first act of the film depicts the young Kathy, along with her friends Tommy and Ruth, spending their childhood at Hailsham in the late 1970s. The students are encouraged to create artwork, and their best work gets into The Gallery run by a mysterious woman known only as Madame. One day, a new teacher, Miss Lucy quietly informs the students of their fate; they are destined to be organ donors and will die, or “complete”, in their early adulthood. Shortly afterward she is sacked by the headmistress, Miss Emily for sharing this revelation with the children. As time passes, Kathy falls in love with Tommy, but Ruth and Tommy begin a relationship and stay together throughout the rest of their time at Hailsham.In the second act, Kathy, Ruth and Tommy, now teenagers, are rehoused in cottages on a farm in 1985. They are permitted to leave the grounds on day trips, but are resigned to their eventual fate. At the farm, they meet former pupils of schools similar to theirs, and it is revealed that they are all clones. They also hear rumours of the possibility of “deferral” – a temporary reprieve from organ donation for donors who are in love and can prove it. Tommy becomes convinced that The Gallery at Hailsham was intended to look into their souls and that artwork sent to The Gallery will be able to confirm true love where it is present. The relationship between Tommy and Ruth becomes sexual, and jealousy causes Kathy and Ruth to break their friendship. The lonely Kathy leaves and becomes a “carer” – a clone who is given a temporary reprieve from donation as a reward for supporting and comforting donors as they are made to give up their organs. Tommy and Ruth’s relationship ends.In the third and final act, 10 years later, Kathy is still working as a carer, and has watched many clones gradually die as their organs are harvested. Kathy, who has not seen Ruth or Tommy since the farm, discovers Ruth, frail after two donations. They find Tommy, who is also weakened by his donations, and drive to the sea. There, Ruth admits that she did not love Tommy, and only seduced him because she was afraid to be alone. She is consumed with guilt and has been searching for a way to help Tommy and Kathy. She believes that the rumours of “deferral” are true, and has found the address of the gallery owner, Madame from Hailsham, who she thinks may grant deferrals to couples in love. Ruth dies on the operating table shortly afterward.Kathy and Tommy finally begin a relationship. Tommy explains to Kathy that he has been creating art in the hope that it will aid deferral. He and Kathy drive to visit Madame, who lives with the headmistress of Hailsham. The two teachers tell them that there is no such thing as deferral, and that Tommy’s artworks will not help him. They explain that the purpose of The Gallery was not to look into their souls but to investigate whether the “all but human” clones even have souls at all; Hailsham was the last place to consider the ethical implications of the donor scheme. As they take in the news on their return journey, Tommy breaks down in an explosion of rage and frustration, and he and Kathy cling to each other in grief. The film ends with Tommy dying on the operating table. Kathy is left alone, waiting for her donations which will begin in a month. Contemplating the ruins of her childhood, she asks in voice-over whether her fate is really any different from the people who will receive her organs: after all, “we all complete”.This is an excellent film, one of the best of the 2010, and not to be missed by those who appreciate depth and literary quality.

HALLOWEEN OF HORROR REVIEW: MISS PEREGRINE’S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN

CAST

Eva Green (Sin City 2)
Asa Butterfield (Hugo)
Samuel L. Jackson (The Legend of Tarzan)
Judi Dench (Skyfall)
Rupert Everett (Shrek 2)
Allison Janney (Mom)
Chris O’Dowd (St. Vincent)
Terence Stamp (Big Eyes)
Ella Purnell (Kick-Ass 2)
Finlay MacMillan (Waterloo Road)
Lauren McCrostie (The Falling)
Kim Dickens (Hollow Man)

For years Abe Portman (Terence Stamp) tells stories to his Floridian grandson Jake (Asa Butterfield) about his childhood battling monsters and spending World War II living at “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” at Cairnholm, Wales. The home’s children and their headmistress, Miss Alma Peregrine (Eva Green), possess paranormal abilities and are known as “Peculiars”. After 16-year-old Jake receives a phone call from his grandfather, he goes to his house with his drugstore supervisor Shelly (O-Lan Jones) and finds his grandfather with his eyes missing. Abe tells Jake to go to “the Cairnholm loop of September 3, 1943”, and that the “bird” will tell him everything. Abe then dies mysteriously. As Shelly joins Jake with her gun, he sees one of the monsters from Abe’s stories appear behind her. But when he tells her to shoot behind, the monster disappears.
Convinced by his psychiatrist, Dr. Golan (Allison Janney) and by a letter from Miss Peregrine to Abe that he finds in one of his birthday presents from Abe, Jake and his father Frank (Chris O’Dowd) travel to Cairnholm, where Jake finds that the children’s home was destroyed during a Luftwaffe raid on “September 3, 1943”. At the house, Jake is startled when some of the Peculiar children, surprisingly, come out to greet him. They are sent by Miss Peregrine after she (in “bird” form) saw Jake and Frank arrive on the island. They take him through a cave and he finds himself in 1943, when their house was still intact. Miss Peregrine greets him and explains that she belongs to a class of female Peculiars named “Ymbrynes”, who can transform into birds (in Miss Peregrine’s case, a peregrine falcon) and manipulate time. To avoid persecution for being Peculiars, she and her children hide from the outside world in a time loop she created, set to September 3, 1943, meaning that they all live the same day over and over again and in the meantime, avoid aging. Time loops can only be entered by Peculiars.
Jake is introduced to the rest of the children, including aerokinetic Emma Bloom (Ella Purnell), to whom he is attracted (like she was to his grandfather before). He also learns about “Hollowgasts” (or “Hollows”) – the monsters from Abe’s stories that are invisible to everyone. However, Jake learns he himself is a Peculiar; like his grandfather, he has the ability to see the Hollows. Hollows are Peculiars who were transformed by a failed experiment that used an Ymbryne’s powers to became immortals, killing the Ymbryne in the process. Led by shapeshifter Mr. Barron (Samuel L. Jackson), they hunt Peculiars to consume their eyeballs. When enough eyes are consumed, the Hollows transform into milky-white eyed visible Peculiars known as “Wights”.
A wounded Ymbryne avocet named Miss Avocet (Judi Dench), comes and reveals (also in another letter from Abe to Miss Peregrine) that Barron raided her January 2016 time loop at Blackpool, England, killed her children, and is trying to repeat his failed experiment by using more Ymbrynes. Worried, Miss Peregrine decides to move out with her children and Miss Avocet. While back in 2016, Jake realizes earlier that a Hollow might be nearby and goes back to the cave to warn his friends. He is followed by another visitor on the island, ornithologist John Lamont (Rupert Everett) who is revealed to be Mr. Barron. Barron had tried to find out about Miss Peregrine’s loop from Abe, but his Hollow companion, Mr. Malthus (whose past self is in the island) killed Abe before he could. Barron then posed as Dr. Golan, encouraging him to go to the island so Jake could guide him to the loop. Using Jake as a hostage at the children’s home, Barron forces Miss Peregrine to come with him to Blackpool in her bird form and leave Jake, her children, and Miss Avocet for their own safety.
Malthus arrives and kills Miss Avocet, but Jake and the children escape just as the Luftwaffe raid destroys the house and kills Malthus. Without Miss Peregrine to reset it, the loop closes, leaving them permanently in 1943. They travel on a sunken ocean liner to the Blackpool loop and use their abilities to fight Barron’s Hollow and Wight minions and rescue Miss Peregrine and other captive Ymbrynes. As a last resort, Barron poses as Jake to confuse the children. When the last Hollow arrives, Jake, who can see the monster, is able to avoid him. The Hollow kills Barron and Jake kills the Hollow.
Jake says goodbye to the children and returns to the present world in Florida, relating his adventures to Abe, who is alive and well: Malthus’ death in 1943 erased himself and his murder of Abe from the future (2016). Abe gives Jake a map of time loops, allowing Jake (for months in his own time) to reunite with his friends and Emma. The two kiss as Miss Peregrine (in her peregrine form) follows them and all of her children in their own ship, looking for another time loop.Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is a delightful original adventure directed by Tim Burton. The fantasy iis highly entertaining with lovely characters.

REVIEW: MALEFICENT

CAST

Angelina Jolie (Mr and Mrs Smith)
Elle Fanning (Super 8)
Sharlto Copley (Powers)
Lesley Manville (Vera Drake)
Imelda Staunton (Paddington)
Juno Temple (Horns)
Sam Riley (Control)
Brenton Thwaites (Titans)
Ella Purnell (Kick-Ass 2)
Isobelle Molloy (Una)
Janet McTeer (Jessica Jones)

MV5BZDZjMjM5YWMtMzA3Yi00NTgwLThlMWUtMGMxMTQxYWI0OWNhXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyOTc5MDI5NjE@._V1_SX1777_CR0,0,1777,999_AL_Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) is a powerful fairy who lives in the Moors, a magical forest realm bordering a corrupt human kingdom. As a young girl, she meets and falls in love with a human peasant boy named Stefan, whose love for Maleficent is overshadowed by his ambition to become king. As they grow older, the two grow apart, and Maleficent becomes protector of the Moors. When King Henry (Kenneth Cranham) tries to conquer the Moors, a grown Maleficent forces him to retreat. Fatally wounded in battle, he declares that whoever kills Maleficent will be named his successor and marry his only daughter, Princess Leila. Stefan visits Maleficent in the Moors, where he drugs her but cannot bring himself to kill her. Instead, he cuts off her wings and presents them to the king as evidence of her death. Maleficent awakens to find herself wingless. Overwhelmed by Stefan’s betrayal, she declares herself Queen of the Moors, forming a dark kingdom with Diaval (Sam Riley), a raven to whom she gives human form. He acts as her wings, her spy and confidant.MV5BMTUyMzg3MDY3MV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMjMyMjI2MTE@._V1_After some time, Diaval informs Maleficent that Stefan (Sharlto Copley), now king, is hosting a christening for his newborn daughter, Princess Aurora, with his wife, Queen Leila (Hannah New). Bent on revenge, Maleficent arrives uninvited and curses the infant princess: on her sixteenth birthday, she will prick her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel and fall into a deep sleep from which she will never awaken. When Stefan begs for mercy, Maleficent offers an antidote: the curse can only be broken by true love’s kiss. Stefan sends Aurora to live with three pixies – Knotgrass (Imelda Staunton), Thistlewit (Juno Temple), and Flittle (Lesley Manville) – until the day after her sixteenth birthday, while he destroys all the spinning wheels in the kingdom and hides their remnants in the castle dungeon. He sends his armies to find and kill Maleficent, but she surrounds the Moors with an impenetrable wall of thorns. King Stefan slips into madness and paranoia trying to prevent the curse, even neglecting to see his wife on her deathbed.MV5BNzQzMzI0NDg2M15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMTI2MzI1MTE@._V1_SY1000_SX1500_AL_Despite her initial dislike for Aurora, Maleficent begins to have feelings for the girl. After a brief meeting with the young Aurora, Maleficent watches over her from afar. When Aurora (Elle Fanning) is fifteen, she encounters Maleficent. Knowing that she is being watched over, she refers to Maleficent as her “fairy godmother.” Realizing she has grown fond of the princess, Maleficent attempts to revoke the curse, but is unsuccessful. In the forest, Aurora meets Prince Philip (Brenton Thwaites), and the two are instantly smitten with one another. On the day before Aurora’s sixteenth birthday, Maleficent, invites her to live with her in the Moors. The pixies inadvertently tell Aurora of her past and reveal Maleficent’s true identity, and a distraught Aurora runs away to her father’s castle.
MV5BODEyNTAwMTcyMF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMDIyMjI2MTE@._V1_After a brief reunion with his daughter, Stefan locks her away in her room for her own safety. However, the power of the curse draws Aurora to the dungeon, where remnants of a spinning wheel pricks her finger. She falls into a deep sleep, fulfilling the curse. Maleficent, intent on saving her, abducts Phillip and infiltrates Stefan’s castle, but Phillip’s kiss fails to awaken Aurora. At her bedside, Maleficent apologizes to Aurora and kisses her forehead. Aurora awakens, as the motherly tenderness proves powerful enough to break the spell. Aurora forgives Maleficent, but as they attempt to leave the castle, Stefan and his guards spring an ambush, trapping Maleficent in an iron net. As her attackers close in, Maleficent transforms Diaval into a dragon freeing her, but they are driven back by the guards. Stefan beats and taunts Maleficent, but before he can deliver a killing blow, her wings are freed by Aurora and fly back to Maleficent reattaching themselves. Fully empowered, Maleficent carries Stefan to the top of the castle’s highest tower. At the precipice, she cannot bring herself to kill him. Stefan attempts to kill her, however, and both plummet from the tower. Maleficent is able to break away, and Stefan falls to his death. Soon after, Princess Aurora is crowned Queen by Maleficent, unifying the two kingdoms in peace.MV5BMTUzNTk5ODE5OF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMjQ0MDQ4MDE@._V1_SY1000_SX1500_AL_Maleficent is the perfect blend of excitement and fairy tale.

REVIEW: CYBERBULLY

CAST

Maisie Williams (Game of Thrones)
Ella Purnell (Kick-Ass 2)
Haruka Abe (About Time)

The film takes place entirely in the bedroom of Casey Jacobs and happens in real time. One evening, Casey is Skyping with her best friend, Megan, when she learns that her ex-boyfriend, Nathan, has posted a cruel comment on Twitter about Casey’s use of anti-depressants. Megan confides in their friend, Alex, and suggests that he hack Nathan’s account as revenge, but he declines. After Casey and Megan end their chat, Casey suddenly receives an instant message, ostensibly from Alex, who provides her with a hacked link to Nathan’s Twitter account, and, overjoyed, Casey posts an embarrassing tweet about his erectile dysfunction. However, after she deduces that the type of language the messenger is using is not the sort the real Alex would use, she realises that the messenger is an anonymous hacker. The hacker describes themselves as a “fan”, and shows Casey a series of videos of her previous activity across the internet, most of it under her online pseudonym “Chronic Youth”, before pointing out that Megan hasn’t included a photo of Casey on her Instagram account for a long time. Finally they reveal that they are a vigilante who helps “victims of cyberbullying”.Suddenly frightened, Casey excuses herself from the chat, but after seemingly complying, the hacker activates a screamer on her computer, catching her off guard, and menacingly orders her to take a seat, takes control of the webcam, and starts to communicate to Casey in a computer-generated voice. They then reveal a series of nude photographs that Casey took of herself, and threatens to post them online if either she leaves the room, her father (who repeatedly calls up to her and knocks on her door) enters, or she answers any phone calls, effectively leaving her trapped and isolated. To Casey’s horror, the hacker then uploads a video that she and Megan filmed revealing the homosexuality of their friend, Tamara, on Casey’s Twitter account, effectively outing her, and provoking a series of angry texts from Tamara. When Casey demands to know how the hacker’s actions are helping her, the hacker scoffs and reveals that it is Casey who is the cyber bully.The hacker then shows Casey all of her previous activity under the screen name “Chronic Youth” again, and explains to her how her actions constitute cyber-bullying, while also revealing that they had posted the cruel comment about her from Nathan’s account in order to bait her. She attempts to justify herself by saying that her actions are completely normal for a teenager, but the hacker dismisses these as mere excuses, and that they do not make it okay. Through a series of videos and screen-grabs, they tell Casey the story of Jennifer Li, a singer whose Vine had suffered a deluge of abuse and trolling as a result of a single, cruel comment that Casey had made about her singing. Jennifer eventually posted a video in which she told the story of her abuse with flash cards, and, shortly afterwards, committed suicide. Believing that the hacker is Jennifer’s father or mother, Casey tearfully expresses remorse for what has happened, but the hacker denies being in any way related to Jennifer, and instead demands that Casey meets their demands, to admit to being a cyber bully, confess to her role in Jennifer’s death, and to apologise. She does so, but the hacker believes she is being insincere, and announces that they will upload Casey’s nude photos regardless, as well as some nude photographs of Megan’s, and that she will have to choose either death by overdosing on her anti-depressants or living with the shame that would inevitably follow the exposure of her photos, and the loss of her best friend.Defeated, Casey prepares to take her overdose when she notices that the hacker expresses amusement by typing “har har har”, and realises that the writing style matches that of another of Jennifer Li’s more aggressive trolls, “Steerpike_84”, and that they have goaded several others into committing suicide. At that moment, Casey’s father turns up at her door with a message from Megan, who has deduced that Casey’s recent activity is not really her. Casey vomits up the pills she has already taken, and when the hacker tries to threaten to post her photos again, they make several typos, revealing that they are beginning to falter. Casey tells the hacker to go ahead and post the photos if they wish because they can do nothing to control the actions or emotions of her family, her friends or her real life, before heading to the door to call Megan back. Defeated, the hacker pleads with her to stay, offering to reveal their true identity. Casey simply returns to the computer, looks right into the webcam and tells the hacker that their identity doesn’t matter to her, because when she stops talking to them, they become nothing. She closes the computer, cutting the hacker off. Overwhelmed by the hour-long ordeal she has just been through, Casey opens her door, collapses in the doorway, and tearfully calls to her father, who rushes to her.Maisie’s portrayal in the movie is extraordinary. This movie is a great, a great look at the dangers of bullying via the net.