DARKMATTERS - The Mind of Matt

You met me at a very strange time in my life...

Monday, January 29, 2018

Darkmatters Review: Downsizing


Downsizing (15)

Dir. Alexander Payne

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

“Get up and open your eyes. This small world is filled with things to see...”

Downsizing or ‘Honey I shrunk the fun concept into a campaigning “dramedy”’ as it’s more accurate title would be, is an odd film and hard to put in a genre. The trailer makes it looks like comedic social satire with dark edges but the actual film is a preachy meditation on the dangers of we humans not being nice to each other or our planet.

small but centre of attention!?

The inventive plot revolves around the potentially world saving scientific gimmic that allows humans to be shrunk in size to about 4” and live their lives in tiny communities which massively reduce the drain on the planetary resources. The selling point for ‘going small’ is that you get way more for your money as huge mansions, jewellery and other luxuries are relatively cheap on a micro level so even those on moderate incomes can live like little millionaires.

Paul Safranek (Matt ‘The Martian’ Damon) is your average guy, unsatisfied with life and struggling to pay for a new home so he and his wife agree to the take the downsizing plunge. We get to follow Paul’s odyssey as he comes to terms with humanitarian issues along with personal ones.

no hair allowed

By chance, he meets political dissident Ngoc (Hong ‘Inherent Vice’ Chau) and through her learns some big life lessons. The two actors certainly share some great chemistry throughout which drives the film, even when the moralising message threatens to bog down the plot.

Director Alexander ‘Sideways’ Payne) has created a film that if you can give it a chance will provoke you to think hard about the world we live in, society in general and your part in it all. It doesn’t always work and the climax feels slapped on unnecessarily but it is always welcome to see filmmakers taking risks with ‘out there’ ideas.

tiny first class...

One less subplot features Paul’s dodgy neighbour Dusan (Christoph Waltz), and his slimy pal Konrad (Udo Kier) who live like kings thanks to their illicit import business, it feels like padding and sits uneasily with the wider story arc.

Overall though Downsizing is an emotionally charged sci-fi satire which starts with a crowd-pleasing half hour that would have been a great Black Mirror episode but then morphs into a much more solemn tragedy cum romance.

There are some small pleasures to had but it requires investment!

Out of a potential 5, you have to go with a Darkmatters:

ööö

(3 - It's not the size that matters)

Awesomeness ööö  – Some creative scenes

Laughs öö  – The funnies dry up after a while

Horror öö –  Slightly icky but nothing too grim

Spiritual Enlightenment öööö - LET'S SAVE EACH OTHER!

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Darkmatters Review: The Post


The Post (12a)

Dir. Steven Spielberg

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

“The press exists to serve the governed, not the governors…”

Before being involved in reporting the Watergate scandal which brought President Nixon down, The Washington Post newspaper had already found itself in the firing line of the White House.

The Post revolves around how American military analyst, Daniel Ellsberg (Matthew Rhys), uncovered the murky facts behind the US government's deceptions about the futility of the Vietnam War. And rather than keeping it all to himself, he made copies of the top-secret documents which were leaked first to the New York Times and then later The Washington Post – changing the course of history.

tough day at the office

Meryl Streep plays Washington Post owner, Kay Graham, whose editor Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks) discovers that the New York Times has scooped them once again with an explosive expose on the leaked papers. In a bold move to try and gain ground on their rival, Bradlee sets out to track down Ellsberg himself, find out the details and publish them.

The situation is complicated when by the Federal Court take out a restraining order against the New York Times that could get them all indicted for Contempt and sent to jail if they publish too. It falls to Graham to make the call on whether to publish or not with pretty much everything at stake.

working breakfast

This is a fantastic love letter to the journalist era of 1970’s America and Spielberg really nails the period details with the cars, clothes, music and general feel. The plot takes time to build up Graham's backstory, from her personal strength following her husband’s death, through to her links with key government officials like Robert McNamara, mastermind of the Vietnam War.

The cast are uniformly excellent and the writing crackles with intelligence, there is much to ponder and chew over long after viewing. The Post is a celebration of the search for truth and the cost of the freedom of the press, an ode to an era before the internet, when newspapers formed an integral part of the social fabric.

Gov secrets travel first class

At heart The Post is also a tale of the courage of a woman who had been told that she wasn't as good as a man for the job she held, a timely message that resonates just as much now, maybe more so.

This is a film that everyone should see, it informs, inspires and ignites the deep held human spirit for the value of exposing the truth. Recommended.

Out of a potential 5, you have to go with a Darkmatters:

öööö

(4 - Freedom is essential)

Awesomeness öööö  – The climax is a nerve shred

Laughs öö  – A few funnies

Horror ö –  Tense but not grim

Spiritual Enlightenment öööö - Standing for whats right



Thursday, January 11, 2018

Interview with Dreamchaser Scott Elliot about Scott and Sid


Darkmatters Interview, Matt Adcock puts questions to Scott Elliott – one half of the cool new British filmmaking team whose first film ‘Scott and Sid’ hits screens in March 2018.

Here's the trailer:




Looks good huh? The story behind the film is inspirational too - the two friends raised £1 million to fund their debut film, navigated the distance from dream to reality, never letting themselves succumb to an ordinary path through life. A tale about friendship and coming-of-age, the film offers an insight into the pairs’ dreamchaser philosophy and inspires their audience to be more than normal. Chasing their dreams comes at a cost, but one meeting could change their lives.

Co-creators Elliott and Sadowskyj, said: “Having wanted to make a film since we were teenagers, the fact that we are on the brink of releasing a story based on our lives is incredible.

“The buzz around our upcoming film has been electrifying and many people, including our cast and crew, have already become enthused by our shared philosophy,” they added.

Scott in Bali writing up the questions (Exclusive Pics)

MATT: Hey – so how much is Scott and Sid autobiographical?

SCOTT: It’s a little bit of fact and fiction. Some areas of the story are pulled back otherwise the film would have gone in a different direction, a darker direction. And some elements of the story are more polarised for story purposes or to push a feeling or create a plot point.

MATT: What films have inspired you?

SCOTT: You know, I’m obsessed with films I watch at least two a day, a couple of my favourites today...

Chinatown, Forrest Gump, Godfather, Terminator 2

MATT: I’m a youth worker as well as film reviewer – am interested in your insights into troubled teens like those our ‘heroes’ are?

SCOTT: You know, I made the film for a mixture of people and one group was troubled teens. I couldn’t read or write till around 12 and wasn’t the best, I believe if I didn’t dreamchase I would be in prison now.


MATT: Is this tale one that will inspire those who come from dysfunctional backgrounds to be more than they might believe?

SCOTT: It’s not just for people with dysfunctional backgrounds, working 9-5 for 40 years in a job you hate earning money for things you don’t really want or don’t give a fuck about is pretty dysfunctional, don’t you think?

MATT: I love the concept of ‘Dreamchasing’ – is that something you live by?

SCOTT: Since 15 me and Sid have lived as dreamchasers, it’s been the saviour of us both and brought great memories experiences and opportunities! Meeting Sid and writing our first list was a turning point in my life.


MATT: So how likely am I to be calling Scott and Sid the new Trainspotting?

SCOTT: Trainspotting is one of a kind! It’s a genre in itself, I think Scott and Sid is the same. To compare them is like comparing an apple and a cup of coffee, they are both around the same size but that’s it!

"Scott and Sid is like an inspiring cup of coffee"

MATT: And so which films are you most looking forward to this year?

SCOTT: In all honesty, I’m that wrapped up in Scott and Sid and our next project and don’t have a clue what’s coming out! What do you think I should look out for?

FYI, Scott, I’d say: ‘Red Sparrow, Ready Player One and Sicario 2: Soldado as a quick top three to check’

MATT: Thanks for your time and finally what are your future plans in terms of filmmaking?

SCOTT: We have some big plans!!


Be sure to check back for a full review of Scott and Sid... In the mean time check the official site here: www.scottandsid.com

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Review: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri




Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (15)

Dir. Martin McDonagh

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

Read the extended CVM version of this review: CVM BLOG

“You know, if you hadn't stopped coming to church, you'd have a little more understanding of people's feelings...”

Not much can prepare you for this brutally dark comic drama from Academy Award nominee Martin ‘In Bruges’ McDonagh. The harrowing story is set some months after the horrific rape and murder of a young woman called Angela Hayes (Kathryn Newton). The police have made no progress in finding a suspect so Angela’s mother Mildred (Academy Award winner – and surely potentially in line for another for her stunning performance here - Frances McDormand) commissions three billboard signs leading into her town with a controversial message calling out William Willoughby (Woody Harrelson), the town's revered chief of police.

The Three Billboards

What follows is a battle of wills between Mildred and Ebbing's law enforcement, with the townsfolk’s emotions running high. As anger, bigotry and violence come to the surface, the lives of everyone are impacted.

Joining Mildred on her heartfelt quest for justice is a wildly unpredictable ride, one moment you’ll be rocked by the gut-churning raw grief and recriminations, the next marvelling at some wonderful laugh-out-loud dialogue. It’s a killer combo of superb acting and incredible cinematography that elevates Three Billboards to a classic status.

"Woman on a mission"

McDormand gives a master class in how loss and grief can embitter the human soul, this is an insight into the long uneasy road towards finding any sort of peace. The mix of dark and comedic tones is a tricky balancing act but director McDonagh nails it without sacrificing either element.

The entire cast are excellent but the stand out supporting role is Sam Rockwell as Dixon, a flawed, racist cop whose volatile, childish behaviour is a danger to everyone around him. Rockwell takes his unlikable character on a tremendous arc of development, which will challenge you about how everyone should have a chance at redemption. Woody Harrelson, Peter Dinklage, John Hawk and Caleb Landry Jones are also great though.

"Family business"

Ultimately the central message is that even deeply wounded people can find a reason to live, a purpose and to not only transcend themselves, but walk a path to redemption.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is a masterpiece – a film that will scorch your soul and challenge you but also leave you thinking through how you approach those around you and just maybe make you a better person as a result.

"Emergency"

Out of a potential 5, you have to go with a Darkmatters:

ööööö

(5 - Everyone has their demons)

Awesomeness ööööö  – Just jaw dropping

Laughs öööö  – Really funny but really dark

Horror ööö –  Some grim violence in places

Spiritual Enlightenment öööö - Redemption is possible




Sunday, January 07, 2018

Darkmatters Review: Hostiles


Hostiles (15)

Dir. Scott Cooper

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

Read this review over at Luton News

“Sometimes I envy the finality of death. The certainty. And I have to drive those thoughts away when I wake.”

Heavy duty hatred, redemption and everything in between are here in post civil war frontier America where Captain Joseph Blocker (Christian Bale), a troubled soldier is given a thankless mission which will change his life…

"don't mess"
After a lifetime of killing and fighting the native Americans, he is ordered to escort one of his sworn enemies, Cheyenne Chief Yellow Hawk (Wes Studi) and his family back to his homeland in Montana because he’s dying of cancer.

Hostiles tells the tale of the party’s journey – the fraught relationship between Blocker and his captive is the main focus but there are many encounters along the way. They are hunted by bloodthirsty Comanches, given an untrustworthy US prisoner to take with them in the shifty form of Sgt. Charles Wills (Ben Foster) and find a broken widow whose family has been massacred.

"Not a friend"

Rosamund Pike's Mrs. Quaid is a fantastic study in grief and grit, she clings to Blocker as her protector and their uneasy relationship is both touching and shot through with vulnerability. The acting is excellent throughout and the storytelling gives each character space to develop and through their interactions and challenges to the point that when the body count rises you really care who makes it.

As a ‘Western’ Hostiles is incredibly relevant in dealing with the darkness in men’s hearts and is a fascinating study of how hatred and prejudice can be grappled with and maybe even eventually overcome. Seeing the actions of those who think their cause is righteous can lead to suffering for those they meet, whilst ugliness and beauty, courage and redemption permeate the battles and struggles that each face.

"Time to die"

The cinematography by Masanobu Takayanagi is superb and emotive, capturing the intensity of the situations and delivering some truly awe-inspiring landscapes and vistas. Hostiles is a film that will move you and touch your soul.

Director Scott ‘Black Mass’ Cooper serves up plenty to of troubles for the characters to deal with – even those who have a faith – as Blocker says at one point "God’s been blind to what's been going on here for a long time."

"Mean and Moustached"

You don’t need to be a Western fan to find much to enjoy in Hostiles, it’s bleak and brutal for sure but also offers a glimpse of a possible tonic as we struggle with the injustice and hatred which still haunts our world today.

Out of a potential 5, you have to go with a Darkmatters:

öööö1/2

(4.5 - No redemption without sacrifice)

Awesomeness öööö  – Staggering scenes that will haunt you

Laughs ö  – A few light moments but mostly bleak

Horror öööö –  Harsh violence and terror abound

Spiritual Enlightenment öööö - Let go of hate if you want to live

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