Film Review: Mad To Be Normal

Robert Mullan’s Mad To Be Normal offers good performances from its cast. Whilst the attention to detail is commendable, the film is not captivating.

In the 1960s, psychiatrist R.D. Laing offers a different type of treatment to those afflicted with mental health conditions. His methods, which focus on listening to patients over harsh procedures, are the cause of some controversy…

Mad To Be Normal is a biopic of Scottish psychiatrist R.D. Laing. Rather than a traditional biopic, the film concentrates on shorter, critical period of the subject’s life. The film begins by depicting Laing as a quasi-celebrity; it is a good introduction to an interesting character. Much of the film is viewed through the prism of his relationship with Angie, who he meets early on in the narrative.

There are two main strands in Mad To Be Normal. The first concentrates on Laing’s career and his experimental therapy. The stark contrast between his methods and the generally held beliefs at the time are well presented by director Mullan. A scene in which one of the patients, John, undergoes harsh treatment in hospital provides an excellent contrast to Laing’s freedom, emphasis on talking, and loud shirts. The second strand concentrates on Laing’s personal life, although as necessary, these overlap.

One of the most interesting aspects of the film is Laing’s relationship with his patients. He seems to have a genuine bond with them rather than a purely professional relationship. The film hints at a wider connection between Laing and his patients, but this is not explored in any detail. His relationship with Angie is tumultuous, perhaps revealing more about her than about him.

David Tennant offers a strong and commanding performance as Laing, which is the highlight of the film. He is offered good support from Elisabeth Moss, Gabriel Byrne, and Michael Gambon. Mullen shows great attention to detail in his depiction of 1960s London; the sepia tone, the costumes, and the cigarette smoke go a great way in setting the scene. Mad To Be Normal is thought-provoking, even if it does not pack a punch.

Mad To Be Normal will be available on VOD from 13th August 2018.

Previews: IT Trailer, Spider-Man: Homecoming, More!

Plenty in this week’s preview of forthcoming attractions, including the new IT trailer, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Ferdinand, and more…

IT Trailer

Here is the brand new IT trailer. The film is an adaption of the Stephen King novel, which was famously made into a television miniseries in 1990. This version tars Bill Skarsgård as the villain Pennywise. IT is set for release in UK cinemas from 8th September 2017.

Spider-Man Homecoming Trailer

Here is the second trailer for the latest Spider-Man movie. Spider-Man: Homecoming sees Tom Hollander’s character return from his adventures in Captain America: Civil War, bringing along with him Tony Stark. The brilliant Michael Keaton plays antagonist Vulture. Spider-Man: Homecoming hits UK screens on 7th July 2017.

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets Trailer

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is the latest scif-fi adventure from director Luc Besson. The film is set in the distant future, and stars Dane DeHaan, Cara Delevingne, Clive Owen and Rihanna. Valerian is coming to UK cinemas this Summer.

Ferdinand Trailer

Based on the book, Ferdinand is about a bull who is mistaken for a dangerous beast and torn away from his home. The film features the voices of John Cena, Kate McKinnon, and David Tennant. Ferdinand will be released in UK cinemas on 15th December 2017.

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power Trailer

Well this trailer has arrived at a timely juncture. A sequel to the documentary An Inconvenient Truth, the film focuses again on climate change. A crew follows Al Gore as he fights to highlight the perils of climate change. An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power will be released later this year.

Snatched Trailer

Here is the latest trailer for comedy Snatched. The film stars Goldie Hawn and Amy Schumer as a mismatched mother and daughter combination. It will be interesting to see if the comedy prowess of both actresses can create something memorable. Snatched is out in UK cinemas on 19th May 2017.

Justice League Trailer

This Justice League trailer oozes the style of director Zack Snyder. The film introduces new characters of the group to the ones who appeared in last year’s Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. Starring Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Jason Momoa, and Ezra Miller, Justice League hits the big screen on 17th November 2017.

Postman Pat Movie!

That title certainly deserves an exclamation mark, as today brings us the news that Postman Pat will be starring in his very first feature film. The announcement comes on Pat’s 30th birthday. To be honest, I thought the reliable postman was older than this, but there you go. The film, Postman Pat: The Movie – You Know You’re the One, will be released in 3D in Spring 2013. It features the voices of Stephen Mangan, Jim Broadbent, Rupert Grint and David Tennant.

I always liked Postman Pat as a child. It helped that I met him when I was young (true story). Despite the character’s popularity, it is surprising that a feature film has never been previously made. My favourite character was Jess the cat, unsurprisingly, so it will be interesting to see what the new film does with her (or him?). Also, the original theme song needs to be retained; it will be a crime against humanity if it isn’t.

Film Review: Fright Night

This new version of Fright Night does not match the 1985 original. Having said that, it is still tremendous fun, and one of better films in the recent spate of horror remakes.

High school student Charlie Brewster is dating the popular and beautiful Amy. He has left behind his geeky ways, much to the annoyance of former best friend Ed. When a new neighbour moves in next door, Charlie becomes suspicious of the things he hears in the night. He suspects that new neighbour Jerry is a vampire, but no one believes him…

Director Craig Gillespie and screenwriter Marti Noxon eschewed the option of producing a faithful update of Tom Holland’s 1985 film. Thankfully they chose to alter the screenplay significantly. The changes made offer a sense of unpredictability to those familiar with the 1985 film. Although the film seems a little preoccupied with the social hierarchy of high school, for the most part these alterations work well.

The characters have also been changed for this remake. Perhaps most interesting of the updates in Peter Vincent. Holland wisely chooses not to emulate the Roddy McDowell character in terms of stature and personality. Instead, the character is much younger and more comparable to Criss Angel than McDowell’s Vincent Price-type legend. This makes the film more distinguishable from its predecessor, which is only a good thing.

Fright Night offers the same blend of comedy and horror as the original. There are some jumpy moments in the film, as well as a healthy dose of gore. The comedy, however, keeps the tone of the film light for the duration. There are also some amusing references to Twilight, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and even the original film, as well as a great cameo appearance.

The special effects are sometimes lacking, but even this is in keeping with the overall jovial tone of the movie. The 3D seems to have been employed purely for novelty value. Nonetheless, this doesn’t really matter, as it is fun in a throwback, schlock kind of way.

Colin Farrell is well cast as Jerry. The actor is perfectly suited to the role, bringing the right combination of menace and allure. Anton Yelchin once again offers a solid performance; the actor is quickly becoming one of the brightest young talents in Hollywood. David Tennant is wonderfully outlandish as Peter Vincent; he clearly seems to be having much fun with the role.

Fright Night should satisfy those with a hankering for comedy horror, and shouldn’t offend fans of the original film. An enjoyable watch.

The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists Trailer

The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists is a mind-boggling title. One that is sure to be abbreviated to The Pirates, leaving the poor scientists out in the cold. The film features Hugh Grant in his first animated role, as well as Brendan Gleeson, David Tennant and Salma Hayek. The trailer is a lot of fun, particularly the monkey. The Pirates is due for release in Spring 2012.