Review: The Secret of Marrowbone (2017)

Stars: George MacKayAnya Taylor-JoyCharlie HeatonMia GothMatthew Stagg.

Director: Sergio G. Sánchez

The plot:

Fleeing to the United States, four siblings and their Mother look to put the events of the past firmly behind them and begin new lives in a remote manor.  It doesn’t take long for the past to catch up with them and, after what was the happiest summer the children had ever had, events take a tragic turn for the worst and shortly afterwards their mother also dies leaving the oldest child, Jack (George MacKay), to keep the death of their Mother secret until his twenty-first birthday and keep the promise to his late mother that the siblings would not be separated.  

Hollywood Reporter

The cast:

I was very impressed with all of the young cast.

George MacKay (11.22.63) led them very well showing a compassionate side towards his sister and two brothers but as he builds a relationship with Allie (Anya Taylor-Joy – Split) he becomes more and more protective of them and his despite his feelings for Allie he keeps the two sides of his life apart.  This is much to the behest of second eldest brother Billy (Charlie Heaton – Stranger Things), his frustration at his freedom being limited spills over into shows of anger and impulsive behaviour which Heaton conveys very well.  Mia Goth‘s (A Cure For Wellness) role was almost a more maternal one as she tended to the much younger brother Sam (Matthew Stagg) as she home schools him and essentially brings him up after the passing of their mother.  Goth shows a very nice bedside manner and also tries to mediate between the family when tempers become frayed, another side she also played with some ease.  Anya Taylor-Joy has something of a supporting role here but she just slides through the role effortlessly and again shows she is certainly going places.


The Film:

The Secret of Marrowbone (originally just “Marrowbone”) is not a high pace horror movie so if you’re looking for that sort of thing maybe try The Purge.  What it is, is a very well though out character based story of tragedy within a family coupled with some quite sinister overtones.  It pays a lot of attention to the building of the characters and letting the viewer into just about every corner of their lives but keeping the most harrowing of secrets until the very end.  It’s not a jumpy or scary movie in any form.  I did feel that at some points the film spent too much time opening the characters up before anything really developed in terms of the story but when it finally did it all seemed very worthwhile.  Whilst the story didn’t go anywhere totally unexpected it also isn’t that obvious where it would end.  Set in the late sixties the surroundings of the film certainly seemed to catch the essence of the period and when the movie did venture into the more creepy periods it was well conceived and played out.  A more intelligent scary movie.

The Verdict: 3.5/5 Stars – Well handled tale of terror

The Secret of Marrowbone on IMDb

The Secret of Marrowbone Official Website


Review: Sicario 2: Soldado (2018 – UK Title)

Stars: Benicio Del ToroJosh BrolinIsabela Moner.

Director: Stefano Sollima

The plot:

The US government take a move to change their approach to handling the Mexican Drug Cartels by considering them terrorists which would give them unprecedented controls to be able to tackle the problem.  They call in Matt Graver (Josh Brolin) to get “dirty” as he puts it and start a war within the cartels themselves.  Graver calls in Alejandro (Benicio Del Toro) and gives him the opportunity to get even for the deaths of his family.  The film also tells the tale of a young Mexican boy with intentions of becoming a Sicario and these tales naturally cross paths as story unfolds.

The cast:

I think without the distraction of Emily Blunt, Sicario 2 is allowed to build more heavily on the relationship between Alejandro and Graver and how their stories progress from the first film.  Brolin is in good form as Graver who relishes another chance to get in amongst the dust and dirt and tackle the rise in drug and people trafficking.  He’s still the larger than life character exuding confidence from every orifice possible yet when the time comes is also able to show signs of compassion and a reluctance to follow orders he is equally efficient in doing so.  Alejandro, on the other hand, despite being handed the chance to avenge his family shows his more paternal instincts as he is charged with the safety of a drug lord’s daughter.  Del Toro rarely disappoints and he certainly doesn’t here with another accomplished turn. There isn’t really a lot of support to speak of in any depth as the film really does centralise on the two male leads.  The film relies on the chemistry between the two to really absorb the viewer into the film, although there is a good outing for Isabela Moner as Isabel Reyes, the drug lord’s daughter with which Del Toro has to protect.  She plays a bullying teen who is soon affected the horrors of her Father’s life.

The Film:

Sicario 2: Soldado stands exceptionally well on its own, you don’t really need to have seen the first film to be able to watch this even though the story does build on that which has already passed.  Despite a lot of the film taking place in open desert areas of land it still feels very claustrophobic, as if the desert was trapping the cast.  It is, in parts, quite brutal and provides the sort of explosive action you would expect from a film of this nature.  When you have two such excellent leads, particularly Del Toro, you can’t go far wrong in terms of the acting and the story comes at the viewer from two different angles which meet quite tidily in the closing stages.  It’s a solid two hours in which I was fully focused and Soldado 2 didn’t allow anything to distract from the movie’s events.  It paints a harsh picture of the horrors or people trafficking and the suffering handed out by the hands of mercenaries who will look to profit from these desperate people.

The Verdict: 3.5/5 Stars – Hits the mark

Sicario 2: Soldado on IMDb

Sicario 2: Soldado Official Sony Website


Live: David Byrne American Utopia Tour @ O2 Apollo Manchester

David Byrne came to Manchester’s O2 Apollo on Monday and delivered what only be described as an energetic tour de force flanked brilliantly by a young and talented back up team of musicians and dancers.  It’s a cliché to say it but this was a gig that was an amazing privilege to be at.  For a man of sixty-six Byrne jigged and bounced around stage for the full show without seeming to need to draw breath.  The thought, imagination and craft that must have gone into creating this spectacle, I can only assume, must be immeasurable.  Highlights, for me, where the dance classic “Lazy” and “Once In A Lifetime”.  If I had one complaint it would be the omission of every track from the “Little Creatures” album, I would even have sacrificed “Road To Nowhere” just to hear “And She Was” but it wasn’t to be.  A unique performer brought a unique show to a gleeful crowd.  This will be a gig that stays firmly in the memory for years to come.  If you get the chance, go and see David Byrne for a masterclass in live performance.


Review: Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018)

Stars: Chris PrattBryce Dallas HowardRafe Spall.

Director: J.A. Bayona

The plot:

A few short years after the events of previous film, the dormant volcano upon the island that was home to Jurassic World erupts into life again threatening all the remaining dinosaurs inhabiting it.  Owen (Chris Pratt) and Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) embark upon a mission to rescue the creatures with the aid of a partner involved with the original Jurassic Park alongside its creator John Hammond.  The assistance is not all that seems and sinister intentions become apparent.


The cast:

Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard slip very easily back into their roles as Owen and Claire.  Let’s face it, these aren’t the most challenging role they’ll ever play.  Pratt remains the knowingly dashing hero but Claire has now become more the animal rights activist than the business person she was in the first film.  Rafe Spall and Toby Jones weigh in with some undesirable effect to their characters, Jones featuring a very denture heavy voice to his role!  James Cromwell also makes a welcome appearance as John Hammond’s former partner.


The Film:

I’d only recently watched the first film (Jurassic World) in this series of the dinosaur saga so it was fairly fresh in the memory.  The dinosaur thing never really pulled me in with the first series of films either.  Jurassic World, for me, was just a remake of the very first film.  Not scene for scene but it might as well have been.  I felt it was ok without being anything approaching being that good.  So, how does Fallen Kingdom measure up?   It’s more of the same really but to be fair, the film has more of an identity of its own rather than rehashing anything that had gone before.  There’s plenty of lively action and to a younger viewer some scenes that could be considered quite scary.  The film just isn’t anything special though, there’s a lot of unwanted characters that could have been overlooked and the series continues to rely on youth to make the right decisions.  It does have a curious ending though and it will be interesting to see where is goes next as I’m sure more is to come from the franchise.

The Verdict: 3/5 Stars – You won’t need the priority pass.

Jurassic World on IMDb

Jurassic World Official Website

Review: Hereditary (2018)

Stars: Toni ColletteMilly ShapiroGabriel Byrne

Director: Ari Aster

The plot:

When the most senior member of a family passes away, Annie’s mother, the remaining family members become embroiled in a series of bizarre and tragic events whilst they are in mourning.  The main focus of the events is the young Charlie (Milly Shapiro), already a deeply troubled child but this is just the beginning as all members of the family begin to suffer.


The cast:

Toni Collette really throws herself into this role as the Mother of the family , Annie.  As the events unfold and become more disturbing the more hysterical Annie becomes, sometimes to comical effect rather than actual terror.  Hats off to her though, she certainly immersed herself deeply into the part.  Milly Shapiro‘s Charlie is certainly a key focal point for the movie and her troubled soul is very well put across.  Gabriel Byrne puts in a trademark performance as the most balanced member of the family, Steve.  His normal quite calm demeanour soon turns to that of desperation as his family is cast into hugely traumatic events.  Unfortunately Alex Wolff doesn’t really do anything for me as Peter, I found him unconvincing and false throughout the movie.  Eagle eyed viewers of The Handmaid’s Tale will be happy to see Aunt Lydia actress Ann Dowd make an appearance as well.


The Film:

When someone builds up a movie as a new generation’s “The Exorcist”, then said movie has a lot of work to do in order to impress cinema goers the way that classic did upon its release some forty-five years ago.  In fact, it’s almost an impossible task to get close.  Granted, The Exorcist has not aged well but even so the pressure is firmly placed on Hereditary to be a great horror movie.  Does it manage the task?  Well, not quite.  On the plus side it builds the story well, the horrific events are evenly spaced and steadily bring the movie to its final events although some of the story itself is a little lazily pieced together.  There are some genuine moments of tension and peril and they are very well presented to the audience.  The problem is that all the good work it puts in is almost totally wasted by a poorly constructed conclusion.  The essence of the ending is fine but when it looks the way it does it’s more absurd than it is horrifying.  I was also a little disappointed with how much one of the main characters was actually used or rather not used.  It is still a better horror movie than the standard teen slasher films that come out by the dozen but it’s by no means a classic, just slightly above average.

The Verdict: 3/5 Stars – Inherits absurdity

Hereditary on IMDb

Hereditary Official Website

THE THE – The Comeback Tour – Brixton Academy & The Troxy, London 6, 7 June 2018

There was a strict iPhone ban in place and enforced by Matt Johnson himself upon his return to public performance for the first time in 16 years.  These images were captured with a camera and taken quite covertly and with as little interference to anyone’s view as possible.


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