DARKMATTERS - The Mind of Matt

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

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Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Darkmatters Review: I Tonya

I, Tonya (15)

Dir. Craig Gillespie

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

“America. They want someone to love, they want someone to hate.”

Get your skates on for a winning ice-skate-em-up which delves behinds the scenes of one of the most notorious incidents in sporting history. Olympic U.S. ice skater Tonya Harding (Margot Robbie) became infamous for supposedly having her rival Nancy Kerrigan attacked back in 1994. I Tonya gives a fascinating, darkly amusing and engaging insight into the lives of Harding and those around her in the lead up to the attack and details the fallout afterwards too.

You really don’t need to be an ice skating fan to enjoy the mockumentary style director Craig ‘Lars and the Real Girl’ Gillespie has employed. The story crackles with memorable dialogue and winning scenes that satires the media hungry response and the personal implosion that wrecked Harding’s career.

Driven from an early age...

The Kerrigan-Harding affair is presented with much speculation and many possibly inaccurate recollections. Kicking off with a young Tonya (played by Mckenna Grace) who yearns to be an ice skater – if only as a distraction from her painful broken home life. Her mother is the abusive, totally driven LaVona Goldman (Allison Janney – who just won a Bafta for her role), she might not like Tonya skating but also doesn’t want her to be anything but the best.

By the time Margot Robbie takes over as Harding, her talent is getting her into competitions but because of her poor redneck background which means she must make her own costumes the snobby judges won’t acknowledge her skills.

Janney channelling the wicked witch of the west

Everything changes when Harding becomes the first American woman to land a triple axel and her star finally begins to rise. But at the same time things begin to fall apart as her stupid, controlling boyfriend / husband and his even more idiotic friend make plans to intimidate her competition.

The film makes Harding out to have a heart and shows her as actually a sort of a victim of her circumstances. I came away with much more respect and it will certainly make you consider the situation she found herself in, her terrible life and the ongoing repercussions from the Kerrigan attack.

You'll believe woman can fly...

Robbie is superb as Harding, making what could have been a boo hiss villain into a flawed human worth taking time to understand. Her mother however is portrayed as just evil and as for the men in her life, they are entirely bad news.

In the end I Tonya shows that you may not need to have class when you have talent but escaping your environment is another story.

The law closes in

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


(4.5 - This isn't Disney on ice...)

Awesomeness öööö  – Engaging and challenging

Laughs öööö  – Very funny and quite wrong

Horror ööö –  Some nasty domestic violence

Spiritual Enlightenment ööö - Talent can liberate the soul

Friday, February 16, 2018

Darkmatters Review: Black Panther

Black Panther (12a)

Dir. Ryan Coogler

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

“I have seen gods fly. I have seen men build weapons that I couldn't even imagine. I have seen aliens drop from the sky. But I have never seen anything like this.”

Here we go then with another Marvel super-em-up which follows on from Captain America: Civil War, and it’s a rip-roaring challenge to those who think they might be getting a bit bored of these comic book movies.

The plot sees Black Panther / King T'Challa (Chadwick ‘Gods of Egypt’ Boseman) returning to his homeland Wakanda to be their new leader after his father’s assassination. Things are a little tense though as there are some who would challenge his right to rule and question his stance on the country’s advanced technology and weaponry.

"blending in"

What follows is a dazzling cinematic romp packed with action, humour and strong messaging about racism, injustice and the hunger for revenge. Much has been made of the fact that most of the cast is black but the truth is that the film is so strong it never feels forced.

When the outcast mercenary Erik Killmonger (Michael B ‘Creed’ Jordan) challenges T’Challa’s throne with a view to take and use Wakanda’s technological might to liberate and arm racially oppressed African Americans around the globe – it takes the film into areas of questioning not just revolutionary rhetoric and the responsibilities of leadership.


T’Challa can sure kick ass in a fight but he is a well-rounded character who behind the mask is a sensitive guy wanting to do what’s right not just for his people but for the wider world too.

Director Ryan Coogler gives the film a real beating heart, doesn’t allow the strong racial elements to overwhelm the plotting and manages to inject vital new lifeblood into the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

"don't mess with her"

This is a film that empowers its female characters – to the point that they often take centre stage and outshine the men. T’Challa’s sister Shuri (Letitia Wright) is the Wakandan tech scientist who designs Black Panther’s awesome weaponry and gadgets. Angela Bassett brings maternal wisdom as T’Challa’s mother Ramonda and Nakia (Lupita ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ Nyong’o) is every bit a match for the Black Panther as a strong-willed agent and potential love interest.

"does whatever a panther can, erm"

Black Panther is a triumph, a great addition to the ongoing cinematic antics of the Avengers and an all-round crowd pleaser – a new King has been crowned.

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


(4 - Move over Lion King)

Awesomeness öööö  – Super stuff all round

Laughs öööö  – Plenty of nice laughs

Horror öö –  Not too nasty, comic book violence

Spiritual Enlightenment öööö - A true heart is worthy of a King

Friday, February 09, 2018

Darkmatters Review: The Shape of Water

The Shape of Water (15)

Dir. Guillermo del Toro

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

“If I told you about her, what would I say? That they lived happily ever after?”

Ever fallen in love with someone you shouldn’t have? Ever felt that special spark arc between you and someone completely unexpected or from so left field that it doesn’t even feel real until you’re in the moment and head-over-heels? But have you ever developed feelings for, erm, a fish person?

"don't tap the glass"

Meet Elisa Esposito (Sally ‘Mary Brown in Paddington’ Hawkins), a mute janitor working at a top-secret government research institution. Her life is one of simple pleasures such as watching TV with her older neighbour Giles (Richard ‘Bone Tomahawk’ Jenkins), boiling eggs or taking baths.

Her days are monotonous but Elisa keeps her spirits up, helped by her one friend at work Zelda Fuller (Octavia ‘The Shack’ Spencer). Everything changes when a strange cross between man and fish creature from South-America is captured and brought to the laboratory to be studied. This Amphibian Man (Doug ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’ Jones) seems to be sad so Elisa begins to secretly feed eggs, play him music and the two begin an unlikely friendship…

Of course, the path of interspecies love never does run straight (this isn’t a Beauty & The Beast scenario) but there is certainly a ‘boo-hiss’ baddie. Sadistic security guard Richard Strickland (Michael Shannon) takes pleasure in torturing the creature who bites off two fingers of his fingers in return… Thus making Strickland vow to destroy it.

"boo, hiss"

So the scene is set for a dark otherworldly romance, a tale short through with strangeness and joy, heartbreak, violence and danger. The performances are excellent, the writing, directing and visuals all work together to make a really unique cinematic experience.

Director Guillermo del Toro is great at creating weird and wonderful stories and The Shape of Water certainly deserves all the awards buzz it is getting.

"Not your average movie date"

It seems that kindred relationships can come in all shapes, sizes, creeds, genders and even include fish people… The Shape of Water will make you want to fall in love whatever the barriers, costs or danger – and for that reason it’s a great film of choice for Valentine’s Day and beyond.

Falling for someone (anyone) can be an unnerving and difficult experience – most of us fortunately won’t have a blood thirsty sadist chasing you and trying to kill the one you love like happens in the film. But it is always a balancing act of making yourself vulnerable and not wanting to get hurt – especially if the one you’ve lost your heart to doesn’t necessarily return the feelings or moves on to someone else.

The Shape of Water is a great film to discuss because of it raises the issues of love being more than skin deep, of loving someone who society says you really shouldn’t and of asking what is worth risking to find your soul mate.

There’s definitely something fishy about this romantic dark fantasy – it’s that it doesn’t hold back on any level so there is nudity, violence and peril to go along with the warm and fuzzy stuff. A lot like life then!?

"it started with a boiled egg"

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


(5 - Love 'scales' any height)

Awesomeness öööö  – Superb, heart in mouth moments for all sorts of reasons

Laughs ööö  – Some darkly humorous bits

Horror ööö –  A bit gruesome in places but not too grim

Spiritual Enlightenment öööö - Might make you look at your fish n chips in a new light...

"dream a little"

Sunday, February 04, 2018

Darkmatters Review: Phantom Thread

Phantom Thread

Dir. Paul Thomas Anderson

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

“It's comforting to think the dead are watching over the living. I don't find that spooky at all...”

When does a relationship become obsession? Welcome to the glamourous 1950s where in post-war London, renowned dressmaker Reynolds Woodcock (Daniel Day-Lewis) and his sister Cyril (Lesley Manville) run a successful fashion house.

The distinct style of ‘The House of Woodcock’ attracts women from royalty and movie stars, to socialites and dames. Woodcock himself is a dashing, charming and charismatic confirmed bachelor, until that is he crosses paths with a young, strong-willed woman named Alma (Vicky Krieps), who he simply cannot resist.

High style

As Woodcock falls more and more under Alma’s spell, she becomes his muse and lover but he is not ready for the disruption to his carefully tailored life that this all-consuming love brings.

Phantom Thread is an intimate, delicate, and a beautifully crafted film, which is very much in the thought-provoking, unnerving vein of director Paul Thomas ‘The Master’ Anderson’s work.

Day-Lewis in what is possibly his final performance delivers a magnificent embodiment of the tortured Woodcock who simply does not know how to deal with the strength of emotion he feels for Alma. As she proves herself to be his match, her manipulation of him even takes on a sinister element that ups the fascination of their interplay.

Check me out...

Krieps and Manville are both great in their supporting roles too, bringing sharp female contrast to Day-Lewis’ obsessive and overbearing central character. Krieps, in particular, revels in the glamorous dressing up, being loved and using her own beguiling attraction to get what she longs for.

The central affair between the dressmaker and his muse is a truly intense romance to behold, but that doesn’t necessarily make Phantom Thread a good date movie. There are some disturbing elements along with breathless moments of pure expression.

Faux royal

This is very much a film to let wash over you as the lavish cinematography and style evokes cinematic master-works like that of Stanley Kubrick. The plot takes a leisurely pace, letting the twisting knots of the characters’ lives weave together in a way that feels almost like a beautiful dress being created in front of you.

In the end, Anderson has made yet another transcendental and sublime work of art. Not one for action fans but a must-see for those who savour a deeper cinematic engagement. Go and get entwined in the threads of this phantom movie.


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


(4 - Sumptuous romance and darkness)

Awesomeness öööö  – Staggering interplay and style

Laughs öö  – Limited dark mirth

Horror öö –  Some icky

Spiritual Enlightenment öööö - Passion can disrupt the heart