Film Review: Suspiria

Luca Guadagnino’s remake of Suspiria is a sway which builds to a cacophony. It is quite the cinematic experience.

American student Susie Bannion travels to Berlin to audition at a famous dance company. But not everything is quite what it seems, with Susie taking the room of a girl who was seeing a psychotherapist about her delusions…

After the success of Call Me By Your Name, director Luca Guadagnino’s latest project is an interesting one. A remake of Dario Argento’s 1977 Giallo classic Suspiria, it certainly piques the interest. This is heightened by the choice of cast and the addition of music by Thom Yorke.

The film itself projects itself as a fever dream. And in a sense it is. Guadagnino creates a picture with a mesmeric quality. Suspiria feels restrained at times, which makes the more frenzied sequences even more startling. The narrative is divided into six acts, with the descent into delirium increasing as the film progresses. 

The introduction of Patricia talking to the psychiatrist works well. It sets the scene nicely, giving audience an insight into what is going on at the dance school as well as the socio-political climate of the time. A theme running along the duration is the Lufthansa hijacking crisis. It gives a sense of the upheaval at the time. The decision to set the film in 1977 (not just as a homage to the original) is smart. Witchcraft is perhaps an allegory then for liberation in a time of restriction.

The film relies on an understated fear rather than going for the jugular. The macabre is uneasy rather than horrifying here. There is gore to be had; Suspiria dishes this out in spades, but restricts it to a handful of sequences. Guadagnino’s film has the hallmarks of body horror. It differs in a number of ways from the original; these changes are welcome in distinguishing the film. The different kind of agency given to Susie, for example, is a nice touch.

Dakota Johnson delivers a good performance as Susie. Tilda Swinton is as bewitching as ever, and Mia Goth provides solid support. Art direction, special effects, and choreography are all superb. Yorke’s score works well overall. The addition of song in the climactic scene seems a bit jarring, but this is presumably what Guadagnino was aiming for.

Suspiria distinguishes itself enough from the original, whilst retaining the essence of the story. It is hard not to get caught up in the film’s turbulent rhythm.

Suspiria is being screened at the BFI London Film Festival in October 2018.

LFF 2017 Highlights Part 1

It is just about half way through the BFI London Film Festival, and there have been some great films shown. Here are some LFF 2017 highlights from the first week of screenings…

LFF 2017 Highlights – Unmissable

Call Me By Your Name

Luca Guadagnino’s Call Me By Your Name is undoubtedly one of the most romantic films of the year. Starring Armie Hammer and Timothée Chamalet, the film offers wonderful storytelling, beautiful imagery, and great performances. READ MORE

Mudbound

Dee Rees’ Mudbound is a film with heart. The screenplay has a poetic quality, and is ably backed up by Rees’ directing and performances from the talented cast. READ MORE

Brigsby Bear

Dave McCary’s feature debut perfectly balances comedy with a sweet and sincere tale. Brigsby Bear is very, very funny without diminishing its dark premise. Co-writer and star Kyle Mooney stands out in particular. READ MORE

LFF 2017 Highlights – Best of the Rest

Spoor

Agnieszka Holland’s wonderful Spoor blends mystery and comedy with a thriller to create a rather memorable film. With a great central performance from Agnieszka Mandat, Spoor is a very enjoyable film. READ MORE

Wonderstruck

Todd Haynes’ adaptation of Brian Selznick’s novel is the right kind of whimsy. Transporting the audience to the New York of the 1920s and 1970s, Wonderstruck features some great performances. READ MORE

Ingrid Goes West

Aubrey Plaza shines as a social media-obsessed young woman in Ingrid Goes West. Matt Spicer’s debut is achingly contemporary and a lot of fun. READ MORE

Loving Vincent

Loving Vincent blends technical achievement with an engaging narrative. Marvel at the hand drawn animation in the style of Vincent Van Gogh, whilst learning about his final days. READ MORE

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)

Noah Baumbach delivers yet again, with the brilliantly The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected). The film features an enviable cast, and includes Adam Sandler’s best performance for years. READ MORE

The BFI London Film Festival runs from 4th-15th October 2017. See the full programme here.

Film Review: Call Me By Your Name

Call Me By Your Name manages to balance the tricky task of being simultaneously romantic and realistic. Luca Guadagnino’s film is brilliant.

Elio spends every summer with his family at their summer house in northern Italy. They are joined by his father’s graduate student, Oliver. He is a handsome and confident young man, who grabs Elio’s attention…

Based on the novel by Andre Aciman, Call Me By Your Name is beautifully written and endlessly engaging. The film blends a coming of age story with a classic romance. The film has a universal quality which will resonate with a diverse demographic. Set in the early 1980s, the film does deal with the difficulty in expressing same-sex attractions. Whilst this plays a role, the emphasis is on a burgeoning love story.

Guadagnino manages to get the tone right throughout the film. The film is incredibly romantic, with its picturesque setting, its beautiful protagonists, and its endearing love story. Yet at the same time, the film feels realistic. This is especially true of Elio, in his adolescent awkwardness. It works well that viewers are positioned with this young protagonist. His longing, his tentativeness, his emotion are all recognisable for anyone who has been in love, at whatever age.

The characters in Call Me By Your Name are given sufficient depth and nuance. Oliver’s arch is particularly pleasing to watch, for the most part at least. Elio, meanwhile is talented and inexperienced, nervous and exuberant. Armie Hammer is well cast as Oliver. The actor is authentic and perfectly pitched as the handsome smart and charming newcomer. Timothée Chamalet is brilliant as Elio; he plays the character with such sincerity. Michael Stuhlbarg gives a great performance also, with a stand out scene later in the film.

Part of the film’s beauty is in its telling of the story, the relationship develops gently, with plenty of moments of affection, nervousness, and humour. Call Me By Your Name just might by the most romantic film of the year.

Call Me By Your Name is being screened at the BFI London Film Festival in October 2017.

Previews: The Killing of a Sacred Deer Trailer, More!

Plenty to see in this week’s preview of coming attractions, including The Killing of a Sacred Deer trailer, Goodbye Christopher Robin, and more…

The Killing of a Sacred Deer Trailer

The Killing of a Sacred Deer is the latest film from Yorgos Lanthimos. Director Lanthimos follows The Lobster with this horror-thriller. The film stars Nicole Kidman, Colin Farrell, and Barry Keoghan. The Killing of a Sacred Deer is out in UK cinemas on 17th November 2017.

IT VR Experience

Adjust your headsets for this frightening journey into the world of IT. This VR experience gives a flavour of the film, which is based on Stephen King’s bestselling novel. It is pretty scary! Starring Bill Skarsgård, IT floats on to UK screens on 8th September 2017.

Goodbye Christopher Robin Poster

Here is the latest poster for the upcoming Goodbye Christopher Robin. The film is about the real life relationship between author A.A. Milne and his son Christopher Robin, whose toys inspired the world of Winnie the Pooh. The film stars Domhnall Gleeson, Margot Robbie, and Kelly Macdonald. Goodbye Christopher Robin is set for release on 29th September 2017.

Call Me By Your Name Trailer

Based on the novel of the same name, Call Me By Your Name is a drama from director Luca Guadagnino (A Bigger Splash). The film is about an Italian-American teenager whose head is turned when a twenty-four year old intern comes to stay with his family for the summer. Starring Armie Hammer, Timothée Chamalet, and Michael Stuhlbarg, Call Me By Your Name hits UK screens on 27th October 2017.

The Death of Stalin Trailer

The Death of Stalin is the latest film from writer-director Armando Iannucci. The film is a dark comedy which takes place in the days after the collapse of Soviet leader Stalin. The film features an enviable cast that includes Steve Buscemi, Paddy Considine, and Andrea Riseborough. The Death of Stalin is out in UK cinemas on 20th October 2017.