Deliver Us (Liberami)

Review of exorcism documentary Deliver Us is over at Flickering Myth now and below…

Deliver Us poster

 

Exorcism. To most of us that spells out unlucky priests gripping onto their crosses, noisy demonic activity and sweary puking possessed kids. In short, horror movies.  But as this skillfully produced documentary shows us, the religious practise of exorcism is fully alive and, sort of, well.

Federica Di Giacomo’s startlingly original film presents Father Cataldo as our guide through this fascinating world of hope, faith and hysteria. Thousands of people believe that all sorts of problems and ailments are directly caused by demonic possession. Cataldo, through his weekly mass of liberation, offers a surprisingly frank and self-aware approach to the procedure and an alternately calming and cantankerous hand of assistance to those suffering for non-specific malaise.

The exorcism itself appears to be something like a drop-in therapy session, with a number of different characters from different backgrounds introduced specifically through their connection with the church activity. Some are regular churchgoers and some are assuredly not, drawn to the sessions instead because, literally nothing else works. This kind of helplessness and often sad reality is counterbalanced with the dry Sicilian wit and humour of Cataldo, who brings out the reality of working in this social enterprise.

The film also takes on the wider picture of how the Catholic Church has responded to the growing claims of possession and demonic influence. The number of fully accredited exorcists have gone up worldwide, partly due to a Rome based exorcist-training camp for Catholic priests. These disarming facts and scenes are treated with a journalist’s eye, and no one is made to look foolish or silly.

The audience is left to make its own mind up. One thing is for sure, the presence of a shared community and regular social activity appears to be the real saviour here.

 

DELIVER US (Liberami) is in cinemas 27th October and on DVD 30th October #DELIVERUSFILM

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Night is Short, Walk on Girl

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Points of Convergence

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Dennis Skinner – Nature of the Beast

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Soho Square

Soho people meet and greet
The Square a hub and a hive
Alive with chat about the day
And plans for the night

Laughter and study
Smoking and snacks
Punctuated by stray
Table Tennis balls
Flying at random
Whenever a player
Misses the point

Pigeons wander
Pecking at fag butts
Hoping for treats
The mood is relaxed
Another day over
An evening begun

Volumes of Blood : Horror Stories

Review of Volumes of Blood : Horror Stories is over at Flickering Myth.  and… below…!!!

volumes of blood horror stories

Anthology films are great in the horror genre. Offering up short, sharp bursts of grim entertainment without too much need for character development, plotting or any of that boring stuff, a collection of horror chapters can really set the scene for a fun – and possibly enjoyably scary – night in. As with this release, they can also show off a variety of different directorial and writing styles and inclinations. Volumes of Blood: Horror Stories allows six directors to present exactly what they can – and can’t – do.

The only rules that the group seem to have been given is that most of the stories are held together by the ongoing story of a couple being shown around a house by a mysterious estate agent. The first introductory segment is itself a film being watched in a movie theatre, which then becomes another story. So far, so meta. But in any case, every one of the other short stories seem to be associated with various rooms in the house that is being viewed. However, it should be warned that the linking formula in this release is fairly chaotic. The wild attempts at humour don’t always sit well with the gross out style segments, and often stories appear undeveloped and underwritten. Given the almost 2 hour running time, this leaves one feeling that some more productive editing and a better worked out central idea would have been useful.

Having said that, there are some stoner-esque laughs to be had with Volumes of Blood: Horror Stories. The writers seem to have a core viewer in mind and to play to the crowd, offering up some fairly dumb, unmemorable but occasionally funny entertainment.

For what it’s worth, the first story – the one showing in the cinema – Murder, Death, Kill is a gross out horror/comedy. It concerns a bungled robbery and introduces in gruesome style a recurring character; the killer Atticus Crowe.  The film then abruptly cuts to a cinema, where the movie is revealed to be a remake of an underground horror classic. A couple of goof balls riff on modern cinema culture and the film proper starts off. As mentioned previously, the linking ‘plot’ is not all together clear and it gives the whole production a pretty messy feel. Still there is fun to be had with some of the stories, most notably Deathday Party, which has a premise of an older couple being rudely interrupted by their neighbours. It becomes the opportunity for some suburban slaying, and this at least is fairly amusing.

Some of the other films are also linked by references to holidays, such as Halloween and Christmas, but as remarked previously, there just isn’t a strong enough linking theme to the whole. That and the fact that it’s all a bit too ‘knowing’ – making disjointed jibes at horror film culture, while presiding over a sub-standard film isn’t the best way to go – are the main problems with this release. Everyone involved – and it’s a huge group of cast and crew – are clearly doing it for the love of horror films in general, but much as we might want to like it, sometimes that just isn’t enough. It finishes up by doing a good impression of an overstretched student film idea that ultimately outstays its welcome.

Folded

Folding arms
In wait of an unexpected unwant
Form and context
Leaves them in struggle
How to portray the thoughts
That appear unbidden
Without giving away
Every last detail of misgiving?

A dog barks somewhere
And a hand is raised
The game play changes
But the rules remain
Arms become outstretched

Aquarius review

The fantastic Brazilian film Aquarius is out on DVD/Blu-ray now…
Here’s my review over at FM and below…

AQUARIUS_UK_2D_BD-500x500

Aquarius is a resolutely intelligent work detailing a whole lifetime of experience, passion and commitment to the things that matter most in life (not in any particular order): art, family, love and community.

Sonia Braga gives an intensely radiant performance as Clara, a 65-year-old retired music critic and widow born and raised into a well to do family in Recife, Brazil. While enjoying a comfortable life of leisure amongst friends and neighbours, it becomes apparent that a development group has its eyes on the home that has been an integral part of her life for so long – the original 1940’s building the Aquarius. All of her neighbours apartments have been rapidly bought up, leaving her as the only resident left. The unscrupulous modern developers – personified by the young graduate of an American business college Diego (Humberto Carrão) – are dead set on acquiring the whole building and will stoop to any means in order to do so. Clara soon realises she has a fight on her hands, and must incorporate her considerable powers of determination in order to see that a semblance of justice prevails.

As a detailed pinpointing in miniature of many of the demands facing communities across the world, regardless of class, nationality or background, on a social level Aquarius provides an assortment of talking points. Most obviously is the modern fact of neighbourhoods and areas becoming redeveloped creating tensions amongst neighbours and families, often coupled with greed, opportunism or both. The film constantly portrays this threat and the paranoia inducing tension it has on Clara in a creepy ways. This psychological thriller aspect of slamming doors, mysterious noises from upstairs and strangers or workmen encroaching on the privacy of home all leave their mark. Clara has to display a steely toughness in order to stay put and the film is great at chronicling her trials and tribulations while displaying the daily activity of her interactions with family and neighbours. This plus a healthy sexual appetite only strengthen Clara’s formidable realness and humanity.

The passionate encounters – in Clara’s case one very successful and one not-so – serve as a reminder of her aunt Lucia (who we meet in the first chapter set in 1980) who linked a dresser piece of furniture with intense and memorable love-making. Part of the success of Aquarius as a film is this ability to traverse different times through memory and feeling. It is a singularly powerful and poetic film, and has quite rightly already won itself top plaudits in the minds of anyone interested in place, memory and identity.