REVIEW: LAYER CAKE

CAST

Daniel Craig (Cowboys & Aliens)
Sienna Miller (Factory Girl)
Colm Meaney (Intermission)
Tom Hardy (The Dark Knight Rises)
Kenneth Cranham (Maleficent)
George Harris (The Interpreter)
Jamie Foreman (Ironclad)
Michael Gambon (Harry Potter)
Ben Whishaw (Bright Star)
Sally Hawkins (The Painted Vell)
Burn Gorman (Game of Thrones)
Dexter Fletcher (Kick-Ass)
Jason Flemyng (From Hell)
Matt Ryan (Constantine)
Tamer Hassan (Batman Begins)

An unnamed man—appearing in the end credits only as XXXX—is a London underworld figure who has established himself in the cocaine business as one of the city’s biggest suppliers, whilst presenting himself as a figure with legal business operations. Considering himself a businessman and a patient person, he leaves the darker aspects of the business to his henchman Morty, who had previously spent 10 years in prison for murder. Once he has earned enough to ensure his long-term financial security, XXXX plans to retire.

Approaching this point, his retirement plans go wrong when his powerful supplier Jimmy Price instructs XXXX to track down Charlie, the teenaged daughter of Price’s associate, Eddie Temple, who has fled a rehabilitation centre along with her drug-addicted boyfriend. To track her down, XXXX enlists the help of two con men known as Cody and Tiptoes. To the frustration of XXXX, the boyfriend is found dead and Charlie has apparently been kidnapped, although no ransom has been demanded.

At the same time, Price instructs XXXX to organise the purchase and distribution of one million ecstasy tablets from a low-level gangster styling himself as “The Duke”. XXXX does not know the pills had been stolen from a gang of Serbian war criminals based in the Netherlands, and who have been in hiding since the Yugoslav Wars and are now large-scale drug producers.

Meanwhile, XXXX encounters the Duke’s nephew Sidney at a bar and becomes attracted to his disillusioned girlfriend Tammy. XXXX tries to broker the sale of the ecstasy pills to Liverpool gangsters Trevor and Shanks, but they refuse, informing him of the drugs’ purloined nature and of the fact that the Serbs have sent an assassin, known as Dragan, to find the pills and kill those responsible for their theft. Because the Duke had mentioned XXXX’s name to the Serbs beforehand, he, too, is now in danger. Members of the Duke’s gang soon start turning up dead and the Duke himself goes missing.

XXXX arranges a tryst with Tammy, but before it can be consummated, he is kidnapped by henchmen of Eddie Temple (the father of Charlie). Temple informs him that Jimmy had lost £13 million in a failed investment in Africa and is now hoping to sell the pills to recoup his losses. He demands instead that XXXX sell the pills to him, and plays him a recording indicating that Jimmy has been a long-term informant for Scotland Yard and intends to betray XXXX to the police as soon as the deal is done, planning to gain clemency from the deal and also take away XXXX’s wealth.

A furious XXXX shoots and kills Jimmy at his home, but does so with a gun that Gene, Jimmy’s henchman, had used to commit a prior murder, putting both himself and Gene in danger. XXXX then discovers that his accountant, to whom Jimmy had referred him, has embezzled all of his money and disappeared. Gene and Morty, after being given evidence of Jimmy’s snitching, acknowledge XXXX as the new acting boss and show him the corpse of the Duke, whom Gene had killed along with Duke’s girlfriend, Slasher, when the latter threatened to alert the police about the pills.

To recoup something from the fiasco, XXXX tips the police off about the Duke’s hideout, who then conduct a raid. XXXX is intentionally present during the raid to feign purchasing the pills from the Duke’s crew, and Dragan, who has been following XXXX, watches the raid from afar as the police confiscate the drugs and as XXXX and Duke’s crew escape. Meanwhile, XXXX has arranged for Cody and Tiptoes to con the raiding police unit out of the pills. XXXX delivers the severed head of the Duke to Dragan as a peace offering, who reports back to his Serbian boss that the police have seized the drugs. Cody and Tiptoes return the drugs to XXXX in exchange for a fee. However, when he attempts to sell them to Eddie Temple at the latter’s bonded warehouse, Temple’s henchmen rob his crew of the drugs at gunpoint. To end XXXX’s faux assignment given by Jimmy, Temple reveals that he has put Charlie back into rehab.

To satisfy him, Temple then gives XXXX a “welcome to the layer cake” in the form of a membership to the Stoke Park Country Club of which he is a member and Jimmy was. Expecting betrayal, XXXX successfully arranges for Trevor, Shanks, and young Dizzy to steal the drugs back from Temple’s men. The gang assembles for lunch at the Stoke Park Club, honoring XXXX their new boss. However, he demurs, stating his intention to stick to his planned retirement. When leaving the club with Tammy, mentally running through the names of his fellow murdered businessmen, he is shot by a heart-broken Sidney. XXXX collapses bleeding, and the film ends with him twitching on the club’s front steps and thinking of his possible imminent death.Layer Cake is definitely not for all types. Those of you who do stick around through the reveals and character developments, I can assure you that the payoff is worth the investment.

25 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS REVIEW: STONEHEARST ASYLUM

CAST

Kate Beckinsale (Underworld)
Jim Sturgess (21)
Michael Caine (The Dark Knight)
Ben Kingsley (Iron Man 3)
David Thewlis (Wonder Woman)
Brendan Gleeson (Paddington 2)
Sinéad Cusack (Wrath of The Titans)
Sophie Kennedy Clark (The Danish Girl)
Christopher Fulford (Tower Block)
Jason Flemyng (From Hell)

Kate Beckinsale and Sophie Kennedy Clark in Eliza Graves (2014)In 1899, an Oxford University professor demonstrates a case of female hysteria, Lady (Eliza) Graves (Kate Beckinsale), before his class. The patient is drugged and protesting that she is sane, but the professor points out that all mental patients claim to be sane, much as all criminals claim to be innocent. He ignores her demands that he not touch her to induce a fit for the students to observe. The professor advises his students to believe nothing they hear and only half of what they see. Later, a young man, the newly-minted Dr. Edward Newgate, (Jim Sturgess), arrives at Stonehearst Asylum on Christmas Eve, where he desires to take up residency. A group of armed men led by Mickey Finn (David Thewlis) allow him entry. Finn escorts him to the office of the superintendent, Dr. Silas Lamb (Ben Kingsley). Although Lamb was not expecting him, despite Newgate having sent letters preceding his arrival, he welcomes the help of an Oxford-educated doctor and grants him the residency.Eliza Graves (2014)Newgate is surprised by Lamb’s unorthodox methods and uncustomarily humane asylum. Lamb explains that he does not believe in drugging or incarcerating his patients, and he encourages their delusions when he feels it will bring them greater happiness, thus creating a kind and dignified environment at the asylum. Lady Graves, now a resident at Stonehearst, is introduced to Newgate, who appears immediately smitten. Lamb explains that Lady Graves has an abusive and painful past. She developed hysteria from enduring her husband’s “unnatural appetites” and can no longer bear emotional or physical contact without seizing in hysterical fits. She stabbed her husband in the right eye with a comb and bit off his left ear trying to protect herself, which led to her father committing her into the asylum to escape her marriage to her “monster” of a husband. Her husband has since been trying to free her back into his care. Dr. Lamb is currently prescribing musical therapy for her and refuses to declare her sane, for her own safety.Kate Beckinsale and Jim Sturgess in Eliza Graves (2014)Though she brushes aside Newgate’s attempts at flirtation, she is struck by his empathy and respectful demeanor. An elaborate Christmas feast follows, during which the staff and patients mingle and a small fight between Newgate and Finn occurs, cementing their dislike for one another. After the dinner, Lady Graves delivers ominous warnings to Newgate, and quietly insists that he flee the asylum, but Newgate refuses to leave without her. The reason for Lady Graves’s warning soon reveals itself. Newgate discovers dozens of prisoners being kept in basement cells. The prisoners reveal that they are the true staff of Stonehearst, and the doctors and nurses Newgate has met upstairs are actually patients.Michael Caine in Eliza Graves (2014)The real superintendent, Dr. Benjamin Salt (Michael Caine), explains that Lamb and Finn drugged their drinks and led a revolt. Dr. Salt and Mrs. Pike (Sinéad Cusack), the matron, warn Newgate that Lamb is a dangerous madman – a surgeon who murdered his patients during wartime. Isolated and with limited options of regaining control over the asylum even should they be freed, the staff must remain in their cells to await outside assistance. They request that Dr. Newgate locate the keys in Finn’s possession to release them, or else escape to London and seek help. Lamb begins his unorthodox training for Newgate’s residency through an enlightening, if hands-on, lesson in patient dignity. Newgate attempts to recruit Lady Graves to his cause of freeing the true staff, but she declines to become involved and tells him of Salt’s and his staff’s inhuman abuses. Newgate reveals the scars of his own abusive past and tells her he understands.Kate Beckinsale in Eliza Graves (2014)Newgate sneaks into Lamb’s office and successfully retrieves Salt’s notes, but not the keys. While hiding, he overhears Lamb and Finn discussing him. Finn is deeply suspicious of Newgate, but Lamb believes Newgate shows promise and could be a great asylum doctor one day. Both acknowledge the prisoners in the basement, and Lamb promises that the loose ends will be tied up by the New Year. Salt’s notes detail his barbaric medical treatments used against Lamb, who had been under his care for nine years without cracking before the uprising. Newgate is conflicted when, after two of the prisoners in the basement escape to seek help, both die under suspicious circumstances after being caught by Finn.Ben Kingsley and Jim Sturgess in Eliza Graves (2014)While the patients are happy and thriving, there are some definite failings to Lamb’s method of running the asylum. They are quickly running out of provisions and having difficulties keeping up with the every-day demands of the large institution, such as heating the building in winter. Some of the more violent patients, such as Finn, are also difficult to control, and he eventually murders a female patient. By New Year’s Eve, the patients are burning the furnishings for warmth and Lamb has destroyed Salt’s mind via cranial electroshock, turning him into a patient in his own institution. Newgate is convinced the situation must come to an end and that he and Lady Graves should escape.Ben Kingsley in Eliza Graves (2014)Newgate’s attempt to drug the patients and gain control of the asylum is thwarted and Lamb prepares Newgate for electric shock therapy to turn him into a mental patient to live among them. It is revealed that Newgate had come to the asylum specifically to rescue Lady Graves, whom he had seen at the Oxford medical demonstration and become fixated with. Before the treatment, Lamb grants Newgate a final request: to see a picture of Lady Graves that he keeps in his pocket. The true object in his pocket, a picture of one of the young soldiers Lamb shot (which Newgate discovered in the padded cell Salt kept Lamb in), causes Lamb to stagger out of the room in a fugue. Finn goes to pick up the electric prods to finish the job, but Newgate is rescued by Lady Graves who overcomes her hysterical fits to kill Finn via electrocution. A fire starts and spreads as Lady Graves rescues the staff from their cells and leads the patients out of the building.Kate Beckinsale in Eliza Graves (2014)Lamb has now become near-stuporous from the crushing flashbacks of his past actions when, under extreme pressure during his time as a field doctor, Lamb had snapped and executed his battlefield patients as a form of mercy killing before attempting to kill himself. After all are rescued, as daylight breaks, Newgate again asks Lady Graves to leave with him, but she says that she cannot be with him because he is sane and she is not. Newgate says that he is not sane, as he is madly in love with her, and he intimates that he has a secret to tell her. Later, Lady Graves’ husband and the earlier Oxford professor arrive at the asylum. The asylum has been restored to a gentler order under the kind hand of Mrs. Pike, who is now in charge and has incorporated many of Lamb’s methods of treatment.The professor demands Lady Graves’ release, but Mrs. Pike says that Dr. Newgate already released her weeks ago. The professor reveals that he is the true Dr. Newgate and the one they knew is an impostor. The Dr. Newgate they met was never a medical student, nor a doctor at all, but an escaped mental patient who had also been part of the exhibition. Dr. Lamb, playing chess with the reduced Dr. Salt, hears this and shows a spark of his previous self as he gleefully remarks “Checkmate.” Lady Graves and the impostor Newgate end the film at the Santa Cristina Asylum in Tuscany, Italy, where they are known as Dr. and Mrs. Lamb, treating mental patients with the original Lamb’s methods. The two dance happily and embrace in a beautiful garden.Kate Beckinsale and Jim Sturgess in Eliza Graves (2014)LIkely the film would not have worked so well under less competent actors hands, but Anderson was wise in casting David Thewlis, Brendan Gleeson, Ben Kingsley, Michael Cain, Sinéad Cusack, Jason Flemyng, as well as Kate Beckinsale and Jim Sturgess. It may at first seem like another Brad Anderson thriller, but there are some twist and turns that alter the story into a truly psychological examination of just what is insanity.

25 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS REVIEW: I GIVE IT A YEAR

CAST

Rose Byrne (Bad Neighbours)
Rafe Spall (The World’s End)
Anna Faris (Mom)
Simon Baker (The Mentalist)
Stephen Merchant (Logan)
Minnie Driver (Ella Enchanted)
Jason Flemyng (Layer Cake)
Olivia Colman (The Iron Lady)
Jane Asher (Runners)
Clare Higgins (Hellraiser)

Ambitious high-flyer Nat (Rose Byrne) and struggling writer Josh (Rafe Spall) fall in love at first sight at a party. After seven months together they decide to marry. The film highlights their struggles during their first year of marriage, switching back and forth from flashbacks of the year’s action to a marriage-guidance counselor’s office. Their wedding goes as planned despite many friends’ comments that the marriage will not last, an embarrassing best-man’s speech, and a coughing priest. When Nat returns to work after the honeymoon, she’s embarrassed when Josh calls her in the office—on speakerphone in front of her colleagues—to tell her she is sexy and that he misses her, causing her to abruptly hang up on him. Later, the two meet with their solicitor to discuss how to handle medical crises (last wishes). Nat becomes annoyed when Josh, knowing she would be late, admitted that he deliberately told her the wrong time, causing her to turn up early.The couple throw a dinner party to use their wedding gifts. Some of their differences are highlighted when they talk about their honeymoon in Morocco: Nat didn’t enjoy the leather museum; Josh remembers it as interesting. When the topic changes to Josh’s former flame, Chloe (Anna Faris), Nat discovers that the two never officially broke up when Chloe departed to Africa for four years. In the kitchen Chloe apologizes to Nat for not realising she didn’t know. The women talk about the constrictions of marriage. Nat’s sister Naomi has issues with her own husband’s annoying habits. Josh’s best man Danny asks Chloe out but is rebuffed.The following day, Nat and her work-colleagues make fun of their new client, Guy Harrap (Simon Baker), the new owner of a bleach company. They believe he will be a stereotypical American who thinks the British are “quaint”. They do not realize that their client has been sitting right there in the same café. Before the meeting, one colleague steals Nat’s wedding ring, believing that the account will have a better chance of success if she appears single. During the meeting, Guy deliberately fulfils their expectations of him: speaking in a brash American way, asking for high-fives and casual fist-bumps, asking Nat to repeat certain words he finds amusing and doing a crude Austin Powers impression. Then when they focus on business talk, he switches to his true self, embarrassing the women for their earlier stereotyping. As he and Nat exit the boardroom, she apologizes for their misjudgment of him, and he says they should get better acquainted for the sake of the account. Feeling the attraction between them, she struggles with telling him she’s married, then ends up leaving without telling him.Josh talks to Chloe about his book while she’s working at a charity office. He invites her to dinner because Nat’s going to a work party that night. Chloe declines, saying she’s going out with her work-colleague Charlie, whom she’s been dating. The scene returns to the marriage-guidance counsellor’s office as the two explain that the realities of marriage do not live up to the fairytale expectation they both had. Unable to focus on his writing, Josh sits at home watching television while Nat’s out jogging. At work, Nat receives a large bouquet of roses from Guy. The couple bicker over domestic issues; Josh leaving the toilet seat up, Nat’s inability to sing the right words to popular songs and their different definitions of the rubbish bin being full. Guy shows Nat around one of the factories he owns, where one of his longest-serving workers expresses approval of her as a potential wife for him. Guy explains that he basically grew up in the factory during his childhood summers. Nat comments that she’s not the marrying type, still unable to tell Guy she’s married.Nat tries to discourage Josh from accompanying her to a work party, but he is determined, irritating her. At the party, he makes a fool of himself with embarrassing dancing and standing next to a poster he can joke about during the night. When he approaches Nat while she’s talking with Guy, she still doesn’t reveal that he is her husband and Guy attempts to shake him off, assuming he’s an unwanted menace. Guy asks her to dinner and Nat declines. Incredibly annoyed at Josh for embarrassing her at the party, she heads home without him. Meanwhile, Chloe and Charlie attend a boring dinner party, then leave early to adjourn to Charlie’s apartment. As they kiss on the bed, Chloe’s colleague Alexandra joins them and Chloe finds herself in an awkward threesome. Feeling too silly to continue, Chloe eventually leaves. The next morning she calls Josh to tell him about it, and he soon turns up at her apartment with coffee and her favourite sweets to cheer her up.Chloe and Josh then go Christmas-shopping. Josh wants to get casserole dishes for Nat but Chloe laughs that this is not a present for a wife and she must help him; they end up at a lingerie shop with Josh uncomfortably trying to make conversation with the shop assistant amongst the shop’s expensive contents. Chloe tries on a lingerie set, and asks Josh what he thinks of it. They end up kissing in the dressing room, although both are embarrassed about it afterwards. Josh ends up buying the lingerie. When Nat meets with Guy at his hotel to discuss their business deal, she rebuffs his attempts to get her into his room. He mentions that he has booked a conference room down the hall, but when Nat enters she finds a romantic dinner complete with doves and a violinist. When Guy makes advances, she finally blurts out that she’s married and can’t leave her husband because it would destroy him, and finally storms out.Guy chases after Nat and they bump into Chloe and Josh on the street. After some initial awkward exchanges, Josh suggests that Chloe and Guy get together and they agree on a double date. Back to the present in the counsellor’s office: Nat explains that they hit a low point around the Christmas period, commenting that her husband’s family are weird—in particular his mother. Josh retaliates that Nat’s family were not overly friendly towards him. The scene shifts to a Christmas family reunion at Nat’s parents’, where a series of embarrassing incidents revolving around Josh occur. Josh unwittingly but clumsily offends Nat’s grandmother during a game of charades, Nat’s father makes him sleep on the upper deck of a bunk bed of a young female relative, and Nat’s parents giving Josh a pair of books titled How to Be a Successful Writer and How to Stop Wasting Your Life. At the end of the visit, while leaving her parents’ house, Nat confronts Naomi about why she stays with her husband as they clearly hate each other. Naomi says that they both “embrace the hatred” and that is what marriage is about. Even though she admits there could be something better out there for her, she ultimately loves her husband.Nat and Josh have a conversation about his suggestion of Chloe dating Guy. The two talk about the prospects of both of them as romantic interests. The four meet for dinner, and spend the evening playing pool. Chloe and Guy seem to hit it off, happily competing against Nat and Josh. Nat becomes more frustrated with Josh’s clumsy and patronising attempt to teach her how to play properly, as well as with her growing jealousy towards Chloe, who can play well. They leave the bar, and Nat asks Guy to talk about packaging details, intending to meet Josh back at their flat afterwards. Chloe and Josh depart together, while Nat and Guy go the other direction. After a moment, Nat passionately kisses Guy, resulting in the ripping of the underwear bought for her by Josh.Meanwhile, Josh attempts to discourage Chloe’s attraction to Guy, and she admits she is and has always been still in love with him, lamenting that Josh never stopped her from leaving and insisting that their current circumstances are impossible, that they cannot see each other anymore. When Nat returns home, she and Josh talk about their relationship. After nine months they decide to get help instead of giving up on their marriage. This leads us back to the counsellor’s office, who ultimately advises them to try to make it to the one-year marker. The couple then put up with each other’s quirks over the next few months, eventually making it to their anniversary. Nat brings out the same expensive lingerie for the special occasion, and struggles to do it up because of two broken hooks, remembering the circumstances in which they were broken—her with Guy. Josh meanwhile leaves the flat, telling Nat he’s remembered he has to do something and that he will meet her at the restaurant. He races to Chloe’s apartment, only to find that she is heading off in a cab with Guy, whom she embraces lovingly. Nat contemplates phoning Guy, but then decides to go to the restaurant, where her friends and family are there waiting to surprise the couple. After failing to contact Josh, Nat sits down. She discovers that their friends didn’t think her marriage would last. Josh makes it to the restaurant party, and tells Nat that he thinks she is the perfect wife, just not for him. He asks her for a divorce and she immediately and delightedly agrees. The couple rejoice at the situation, and immediately leave the party one after the other.Meanwhile, Guy and Chloe are at the railway station waiting to go to Paris on a romantic trip. Josh finds them and professes his love for Chloe. When it’s discovered that he split up with Nat, the two are shocked. Nat appears behind Josh, who awkwardly assumed he is the one she wants to speak to, but it turns out she was there for Guy. After a short exchange they happily discuss how perfect Guy and Chloe are for them. In the end, Chloe and Guy mutually break up. Nat ends up kissing Guy and Chloe shares a kiss with Josh.I really enjoyed this movie! It’s a laugh-out-loud romcom, which is genuinely unconventional. It is awkward in all the right places. This movie is clearly making fun of mainstream romcoms. Definitely worth checking out.

HALLOWEEN OF HORROR REVIEW: SEED OF CHUCKY

CAST

Brad Dourif (Alien Resurrection)
Jennifer Tilly (Liar Liar)
Billy Boyd (Lord of The Rings)
Redman (How High)
Hannah Spearritt (Agent Cody Banks 2)
John Waters (Hairspray)
Jason Flemyng (From Hell)

Glen, the kind and benevolent son of Chucky and Tiffany, has a nightmare in which he murders a little girl’s parents. In reality, he is living a life of embarrassment and abuse as a ventriloquist’s dummy. After being forced to perform and locked inside a cage, Glen sees Chucky and Tiffany on television.

Desperate to know his parents, Glen tracks Chucky and Tiffany down to Hollywood, where they are first shown killing a man who is dressed as Santa Claus for a movie. Glen manages to escape his abusive owner, hitch a ride on a truck, and mail himself in a box to California. He wakes up in the prop room of Jennifer Tilly’s horror film, which includes the Chucky and Tiffany dolls. Glen uses the same voodoo amulet to bring them back to life. When Chucky (voice of Brad Dourif) finds out that Glen is his child, he faints. However, Tiffany (voice of Jennifer Tilly) is delighted and hugs her child. Chucky and Tiffany argue over whether Glen is a boy or a girl, due to his lack of genitals (though he is evidently a male). Chucky decides to continue labeling him as a boy, while Tiffany labels him as a girl, calling him “Glenda.”When a puppeteer Tony Gardner begins taking Tiffany apart, she and Chucky decapitate him with a piano wire, leaving Glen shocked and horrified. Jennifer Tilly sees the beheaded body and calls the police. Chucky, Tiffany, and Glen ride home with her in a limousine. Glen, having witnessed his mom and dad kill the puppeteer, asks them why they murder others, as he feels that violence is bad. Chucky replies that it helps them to relax, but Tiffany, feeling parental responsibility, agrees with Glen and forces Chucky to join her in an attempt to stop killing people for the sake of their son. Chucky only pretends to agree, crossing his fingers behind his back, hoping to get Tiffany to shut up.Jennifer tries to get a role as the Virgin Mary in Redman’s directorial debut, but after he tells her that she isn’t right for the part, she invites him over to her house. Chucky and Tiffany make plans to transfer their souls into Redman and Jennifer. Jennifer and Redman start to make love, only for Tiffany to knock them out. While they are unconscious, Tiffany uses a turkey baster to inseminate Jennifer with Chucky’s semen.Chucky leaves and takes Glen with him. After driving Britney Spears’ car off the road, killing her, they proceed to go to a photographer’s darkroom. The photographer, Pete Peters (John Waters), had taken pictures of Tilly kissing Redman and of Chucky masturbating. When Peters turns around, he notices Chucky is gone. Peters slowly walks around his lab looking for Chucky, who was hiding on a shelf. As Chucky is about to attack, Glen tries to warn Peters that Chucky will kill him, only for Peters to bump into a shelf, causing a jar of sulphuric acid to fall into his head, accidentally killing him. Chucky, overjoyed with pride, believes Glen did this on purpose and takes a picture to celebrate, much to Glen’s and Tiffany’s dismay.Jennifer awakens the following morning, realizes that she is pregnant and claims that Redman is responsible, though he denies this. Angered, Tiffany kills him. The next day, Jennifer is horrified to find herself with a fully pregnant belly. The voodoo magic that fuels the killer dolls has also accelerated the pregnancy. Jennifer is captured by Chucky. Her chauffeur, Stan, serving as Chucky’s replacement body due to Redman’s death, is also captured. Jennifer’s assistant Joan (Hannah Spearritt) tries to help her, but she is brutally killed by Glen’s murderous twin sister, Glenda, whose soul shares Glen’s body. Tiffany discovers this and smacks Glenda to bring back Glen, who is horrified at what has happened.Jennifer gives birth to twins, a boy and a girl, and it is then that Chucky has an epiphany. After years of being an infamous killer doll, Chucky finally accepts his circumstances. Disturbed, Tiffany rejects Chucky and resolves to take Glen with her. Chucky tries to throw a knife at Tiffany, but Stan jumps in front of it to save her, causing him to be stabbed in his chest, and he tells Jennifer that he loves her before he dies. The police arrive, forcing the dolls to flee. Jennifer is rushed to the hospital but claims she wants to see her babies. Tiffany drugs Jennifer and begins to possess her, but Chucky breaks in and kills Tiffany with an ax. Before Tiffany dies, she tells Glen to not make the same mistakes his mom and dad have made. Devastated by his mother’s death, Glen finally snaps and challenges Chucky to a fight. Jennifer throws Chucky’s axe to Glen, and Glen impales Chucky. Chucky assumes it’s Glenda again, but Glen reveals that it’s actually him, finally able to kill in revenge for his mother’s death. As he says this, he brings the axe down, dismembering Chucky limb by limb, calling him “Daddy” and asking if he’s finally proud of him. Chucky says that he is and he congratulates Glen right before the final, fatal blow. Realizing what he has done, Glen suffers an emotional breakdown and Jennifer comforts him.Five years later, at Glen and Glenda’s birthday party, a nanny quits her job because Jennifer’s daughter Glenda scares her. Jennifer lets the nanny quit, only to kill her when she turns away. Jennifer’s eyes glow green, revealing that Tiffany was successful in possessing Jennifer’s body. Glen has one more birthday present to open, an anonymous gift. When he opens it, Chucky’s severed arm springs up to grab Glen and Chucky’s trademark laugh is heard as the screen goes black.Full marks to Jennifer Tilly who not only voices Tiffany, but stars as herself and mercilessly sends herself up, portraying herself as an evil human, not an awful lot better than the evil dolls. So, expect more killing and bloodshed, only this time played for laughs rather than scares, not the best in the franchise but still a worth entry.

HALLOWEEN OF HORROR REVIEW: FROM HELL

CAST

Johnny Depp (Blow)
Heather Graham (The Hangover)
Ian Holm (Lord of The Rings)
Robbie Coltrane (Harry Potter)
Ian Richardson (Highlander: The Series)
Jason Flemyng (X-Men: First Class)
Sophia Myles (Underworld)
Ian McNeice (Dune – The Mini Series)
Dominic Cooper (Agent Carter)

In 1888, Mary Kelly (Heather Graham) and her small group of London prostitutes trudge through unrelenting daily misery. When their friend Ann Crook (Joanna Page) is kidnapped, they are drawn into a conspiracy with links higher up than they could possibly imagine. The kidnapping is soon followed by the gruesome murder of another woman, Martha Tabram (Samantha Spiro); and it becomes apparent that they are being hunted down, one by one as various prostitutes are murdered and mutilated post-mortem.
The murder of Martha and her companions grabs the attention of Whitechapel Police Inspector Frederick Abberline (Johnny Depp), a brilliant, yet troubled, man whose police work is often aided by his psychic “visions.” His colleague, Sergeant Peter Godley, tries to grasp his friend’s wild theories. Abberline’s investigations reveal that the murders, while gruesome, imply that an educated person is responsible due to the precise and almost surgical method used. Ann is found a few days later in a workhouse having been lobotomized after officials and doctors supposedly found her to be insane.
It is implied this was done to silence her. Abberline consults Sir William Gull (Ian Holm), a physician to the Royal Family, drawing on his experience and knowledge of medicine. During this meeting it is revealed Abberline is struggling with opium addiction. Gulls findings, coupled with his superiors impeding his investigations, point Abberline to a darker and more organized conspiracy than he originally thought. Abberline becomes deeply involved with the case, which takes on personal meaning to him when he and Mary begin to fall in love.
Abberline deduces that Freemason influence is definitely present in these crimes. His superior, a high ranking Freemason himself, then makes direct intervention and suspends Abberline. It is then revealed that Gull is the killer. He has been killing the witnesses to painter Albert Sickert (Mark Dexter)’s forbidden Catholic marriage to Crook, who bore his legitimate daughter Alice. Sickert is actually Prince Albert, grandson of reigning Queen Victoria (Liz Moscrop), and therefore Alice is heiress to the British throne. Gull tells Abberline that “mankind will remember him for giving birth to the 20th century.” Abberline draws his gun, but before he is able to shoot Gull, he is knocked out by one of Gull’s henchmen.
Gull tries to have Abberline eliminated without leaving any witnesses, but Abberline fights back and kills two of the assassins by overturning a carriage. Gull himself is a Freemason and his increasingly sinister behavior lends an insight into his murderous, but calculated, mind. Rather than publicly charge Gull, the Freemasons decide to lobotomize him to protect themselves and the Royal Family from the scandal. Gull defiantly states he has no equal among men, remaining unrepentant up to his lobotomy, resulting in him becoming invalid just as Ann had been.
Abberline tries to save Mary, but arrives too late, and blames his superior for not helping him or Godley on the cases. Abberline does nothing but watch Mary’s mutilated body being taken away. Abberline receives a mysterious letter, which he soon realizes is from Mary, but he decides not to look for her as a way to offer her protection, as the Freemasons may be watching his every move. Abberline decides to burn the letter, knowing that he can never have a normal life. Mary Kelly does not die; Gull earlier mistook Ada, whom Liz said was from France (but is from Brussels in Belgium), for Mary and he kills her instead. Mary lives with Alice in a cottage on a cliff by the sea. Abberline is found dead of an opium overdose, knowing he can never see Mary again without endangering her. Sergeant Godley comes to pay his respects for the Inspector.The film is well made and the atmosphere is excellently built up throughout the film. It is one of those films where you notice something different almost every time you watch it and it takes a couple of watches to appreciate the story fully

REVIEW: PENNYWORTH – SEASON 1

 

Pennyworth (2019)

Starring

Jack Bannon (Fury)
Ben Aldridge (The Railway Man)
Hainsley Lloyd Bennett (King of Crime)
Ryan Fletcher (Shetland)
Dorothy Atkinson (Harlots)
Ian Puleston-Davies (Vera)
Paloma Faith (St. Trinian’s)
Jason Flemyng (From Hell)
Polly Walker (Clash of The Titans)
Emma Paetz (Gentleman Jack)

Jack Bannon in Pennyworth (2019)
Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Emma Corrin (The Crown)
Salóme Gunnarsdóttir (Knightfall)
Richard Clothier (Above Suspicion)
Ramon Tikaram (Jupiter Ascending)
Ben Wiggins (Mary Queen of Scotts)
Jessica Ellerby (Lovesick)
Danny Webb (Alien 3)
Freddy Carter (Wonder Woman)
Harriet Slater (Faunutland and the Lost Magic)
Anna Chancellor (Trust)
Felicity Kendal (Rosemary & Thyne)
Peter Guinness (Sleepy Hollow)
Sarah Alexander (Stardust)
Peter Woodward (Crusade)
Charlie Woodward (Postman Pat)

Jack Bannon in Pennyworth (2019)Stories that have well-known, predetermined endings are tricky. Stories about peripheral characters before the main draw gets involved are tricky. Origin stories aren’t that tricky, but they become tricky when you’re telling one with the two previous requirements in place. In these ways (and few others), “Pennyworth” is a lot like “Better Call Saul” — the origin story of a supporting player in a larger story that hasn’t started yet, EPIX’s new series about Batman’s future butler doesn’t feature the Dark Knight or even the promise of getting to his story, eventually. Instead, it starts its own story of Alfred Pennyworth and finds compelling new life within — just like “Better Call Saul!”Emma Paetz and Ben Aldridge in Pennyworth (2019)OK, maybe not just like Vince Gilligan’s heralded spinoff, but it’s off to a great start through four episodes. The hour-long drama starts Alfred’s story shortly after his service in the war, as the 20-something Pennyworth (played by Jack Bannon) returns home to his mother and father, determined to run a security business and lead a more peaceful life. While that’s getting off the ground, he works as a bouncer and doorman at an underground London club, and it’s here he first runs into a young American by the name of Thomas Wayne (Ben Aldridge).Emma Corrin and Jack Bannon in Pennyworth (2019)It’s here that “Pennyworth” makes its first good impression, built on the back of many smart choices. For one, Wayne isn’t treated like royalty. He’s kind of a smarmy dick — like a lot of billionaires — and his introduction sees him as a bit of an overprotective, inept brother, relying on the good luck of Pennyworth’s talents and discretion to get out of an ugly situation. That the show doesn’t treat the Wayne name with an air of royalty, as if he’s the most important person in a show that’s not really his, is really encouraging, and it only bears out from there.Emma Corrin, Jack Bannon, and Ben Aldridge in Pennyworth (2019)Alfred himself is a well-rounded central figure, built from the heroic goods of more-than-capable soldier, but not such a smoothed-over goodie goodie to be made boring. He shows off his fighting abilities in the middle of a restaurant, careful not to bother the other patrons too much while tossing a hooligan over a table. There are shades of Future Alfred there, but not too many — he’s still got to become that wizened advisor to Master Wayne, so it’s nice to see he’s also got a few blindspots, too.Jack Bannon in Pennyworth (2019)Namely, women. One sucker punches him near the end of that early scene, foreshadowing many problems to come with his overconfident self-perception. Alfred doesn’t really know who he is yet, and that’s reflected as it so often is to men: through the (smarter) people they date. To get into much more might enter spoiler territory, but the women of “Pennyworth” are pretty well characterized on their own, outside of Alfred’s, too, even if there is a bit of a James Bond element to his lifestyle, as well as the show’s style. (The opening credits look like they’re ripped straight from Bond 20, while Alfred’s “for Queen and country” attitude compliments his 007-esque abilities.)Jack Bannon and Ben Aldridge in Pennyworth (2019)here’s where we talk about how damn good “Pennyworth” looks. Considering how gorgeous Bruno Heller (executive producer and writer) and Danny Cannon (executive producer and director) made “Gotham” — even with a broadcast budget — it should come as no surprise that London has rarely looked better than it does here. The lighting, both diegetic and non-diegetic, is stunning, making the crisp imagery pop when enemies are fighting and bringing beauty to a smoky side street when a noir-ish vibe is more appropriate. The costumes are pristine, sets expansive, and locations exciting in both their look and disparity. One episode is off to the countryside while another is buried in the bowels of a city. Along with sharp scripts, these touches help each hour stand out, and build on the overall enjoyment of spending time with “Pennyworth.”Jack Bannon in Pennyworth (2019)Though there are some structural issues (the premiere is nearly feature length, with wobbly beginning and ending notes) and the big-picture strife between warring political parties takes up a bit too much time, “Pennyworth” establishes an admirable long-game and introduces a number of characters you’ll grow attached to quite quickly. Bannon is a talented lead, flashing charm and strength as well as he balances immediate assuredness (for those hard-to-escape scenarios) and long-view obliviousness (toward his own path in life). The show mimics his versatility, coming across as an exciting new chapter in Bruce Wayne’s growing televised saga. “Pennyworth” sounds like a bad idea, but Batman die-hards and casual fans should both soon discover how very good it is.

REVIEW: HANNA

CAST

Saoirse Ronan (The Host)
Eric Bana (Hulk)
Cate Blanchett (The Hobbit)
Vicky Krieps (Colonia)
John MacMillan (Fury)
Tim Beckmann (Foster)
Jessica Barden (The Lobster)
Tom Hollander (Enigma)
Olivia Williams (Dollhouse)
Jason Flemyng (From Hell)
Michelle Dockery (Self/Less)

Saoirse Ronan in Hanna (2011)

Hanna Heller (Saoirse Ronan) is a 15-year-old girl who lives with her father, Erik Heller (Eric Bana) in rural northern Finland, near Kuusamo. The film opens with her hunting and killing a reindeer. Since the age of two, Hanna has been trained by Erik, an ex-CIA operative from Germany, to be a skilled assassin. He teaches her hand-to-hand combat and drills her in target shooting. He left the agency, going incognito into the Arctic. Erik knows a secret that cannot become public, and Marissa Wiegler (Cate Blanchett), a senior CIA officer, searches for him in order to eliminate him. Erik has trained Hanna with the intent that she will kill Marissa. Due to her upbringing in the wilderness, she is unfamiliar with much of the modern civilisation although she has great encyclopedic knowledge.Saoirse Ronan in Hanna (2011)One night, Hanna tells Erik that she is “ready” to face their enemies. Erik digs up a radio beacon that eventually will alert the CIA to their presence. Although he warns Hanna that a confrontation with Marissa will be fatal for either her or Marissa, he leaves the final decision to Hanna who activates on the beacon. Erik leaves, instructing her to meet him in Berlin. A special forces team arrives to capture Hanna and Erik, but Erik is already gone and while Hanna kills two soldiers, the rest of the soldiers assume Erik killed them before escaping. Hanna is taken to an underground CIA complex where Marissa, being suspicious, sends a body double (Michelle Dockery) to talk to Hanna. While talking to the double Hanna starts to cry and crawls sobbing into the lap of the double, which makes her captors uneasy. They send some guards to her cell to sedate her. As they enter the cell, Hanna kills the double along with some of the guards and escapes.
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In a flashback, Marissa is seen firing at a car that is carrying Hanna’s mother; two-year-old Hanna; and Erik. The car crashes but the trio flees. Marissa shoots Johanna, but Erik escapes with Hanna into the woods. Hanna finds herself on the run in the Moroccan desert, where she meets bohemian British people couple Sebastian (Jason Flemyng) and Rachel (Olivia Williams), who are on a camper-van holiday with their teenage daughter, Sophie (Jessica Barden), and their younger son, Miles (Aldo Maland). She stows away in the family’s camper-van on the ferry ride to Spain seeking to reach Berlin. The family is nice to her, and she and Sophie become friends. Marissa hires Isaacs (Tom Hollander), a former agent, to capture Hanna. Hanna travels with the family as they drive north. Isaacs and two skinheads trail them and eventually corner Hanna and the family in France, but she manages to escape, killing one of the assailants. Marissa catches up with the British family and during interrogation finds out that Hanna is heading to Berlin.
Cate Blanchett in Hanna (2011)
Arriving at the address that Erik had told her, Hanna meets with Knepfler (Martin Wuttke), an eccentric old magician and a friend of Erik’s, who lives in an abandoned amusement park. Hanna plans a rendezvous with her father. However, Marissa and Isaacs arrive. Hanna escapes, but overhears comments that suggest Erik is not her biological father. Later, Hanna goes to her grandomother’s apartment where she finds her grandmother murdered. In a conversation Erik admits to Hanna that he is not her biological father. Erik once recruited pregnant women into a program where their children’s DNA was enhanced in order to create super-soldiers. After the project was shut down, its subjects were eliminated. Marissa and Isaacs arrive, intent on killing them; Erik acts as a distraction to allow Hanna to escape. Erik kills Isaacs in a fight, but is shot by Marissa, who goes to Knepfler’s house. Hanna is there, having just discovered Knepfler dead. They wound each other and eventually Marissa becomes disoriented from her wound, slows down and loses her weapon. Hanna finds the weapon and kills Marissa, echoing the deer hunting scene from the start of the film.Saoirse Ronan in Hanna (2011)Quirky, dark, neat. Saoirse Ronan is terrific.  The cinematography is strong, the locations are diverse and far more imaginative than most films. The script is flawless. All in all an excellent movie.