Yet another genre spanning hodgepodge of flicks this week satisfying the movie geek need for smaller film fare. Romance and espionage in the midst of the Cold War, zombies in a strip club, docs on damned jazz trumpeters and terror tales with a demonic slant all make up the films in this weeks edition of Encapsulated Movie Reviews. Check out the critic skinny on Despite The Falling Snow, Peelers, I Called Him Morgan and The Blackcoat’s Daughter below!
DESPITE THE FALLING SNOW
Taking a story from a book for a feature film is a daunting task, but for the author to not only adapt the tale and direct it as well is almost unheard of. But novelist and female filmmaker Shamim Sarif is fully up to the task creating an engrossing yarn of love and betrayal between lovers amidst the Cold War in Russia in 1959, all the while adding her own delicate visual touches (the final scene is a true visual embodiment of what love is!) to a film where the characters are king. Loved the earnest quality of Sam Reid’s Alexander, the coy charisma of Oliver Jackson-Cohen’s sly Misha and even the hidden emotions of Charles Dance’s older Alexander. (The film’s story jets between past and present with entertaining ease!) But in the end it’s the raw and riveting turn by the stunning Rebecca Ferguson playing two very different dual roles (I wasn’t sure it was the same actor until the credits rolled!) playing passionate spy Katya and no-nonsense artist Lauren that gives this four-star film five-star quality. A great movie indeed, but Ferguson owns the film.
Peelers is a throwback to those non-politically correct genre flicks one might expect from the more loose times like the 80’s and as such will definitely turn off those viewers with a more precious cinematic sensibility. But tackling the film from such an unapologetic out there perspective I’d have to say that Peelers is one damn entertaining film – a dirty undead style fun flick set in a strip club that delivers on all it’s uncouth promises. It’s got gore (it’s a black sludge that starts the undead character carnage – and it’s gross!), girls (the sin and skin is on full display in this club!) and gratuitous bits (all the bathroom scenes are fully vomit inducing!) that will either make you shake your head or jump for joy. Plus with a baseball swinging lead heroine named Blue Jean Douglas (wonder woman Wren Walker!) who not only kicks serious ass, but bares all in the films final comical scene, Peelers pays homage to past picture depravity and pays off.
I CALLED HIM MORGAN
An engaging doc about a legendary jazz trumpet man by the name of Lee Morgan, his early rise to fame, eventual downward drug spiral and then surprising resurgence with the help of his caring wife Helen. The kicker of this story is that there’s an eventual murder involved and it’s not from whom you might expect. Talking with those directly involved (friends, bandmates and the like) and also hearing eerie audio testimony via past-recorded interviews with both deceased Lee and Helen makes for one unsettling story for sure. Note the doc does drag a tad on its journey to get to the events of the end, but overall I Called Him Morgan is one tale of good and bad that deserves to be told.
THE BLACKCOAT’S DAUGHTER
Less a cohesive story and more an exercise in creating a creepy atmosphere, Osgood Perkins (son of Norman Bates himself Anthony Perkins!) turns in one odd and original genre outing with The Blackcoat’s Daughter. Steeped in moody characters (Kiernan Shipka’s Kat gave me the willies!), odd visuals (bodies do bend in mysterious ways!) and weird twists and turns (James Remar and Lauren Holly make for some questionable parents!) the film may not be five-star caliber, but an introduction to the helming picture power of Perkins is a wonderful and wicked welcome. What’s next?