Tag Archives: Fantasy

Are His Powers More Than Magic?

I watched a rather odd movie the other night. It was an Australian production from 1980, directed by Simon Wincer (“D.A.R.Y.L.”, “Free Willy”), titled “Harlequin”.

Mark Spain & Robert Powell

The film opens with a politician disappearing under the surface whilst swimming in the sea. The action switches to a child’s birthday party where we find the leukaemia suffering birthday boy, Alex Rast (Mark Spain – “Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome”, “The Schlocky Horror Picture Show”). Alex is clearly not having any fun at all, until a clown gives him some one on one attention and manages to make a breakthrough.

David Hemmings

With the viewer having been introduced to Alex’s parents, senator Nick Rast (David Hemmings – “Blow-Up”, “Eye Of The Devil”) and his wife Sandra (Carmen Duncan – “Turkey Shoot”, “Now And Forever”), we see the now-unmasked clown, Gregory Wolfe (Robert Powell – “The Thirty-Nine Steps”, “Tommy”) turn up in their home again and declare that he has cured Alex of his illness.

Carmen Duncan

Nick is very sceptical over Gregory’s claims but Sandra very quickly comes under his spell and before you know it the pair have become very close indeed.

What follows is a strange mix of political thriller, drama and fantasy film as Gregory’s influence and magical powers are demonstrated (or is it just an elaborate con?) whilst Doc Wheelan (Broderick Crawford – “A Little Romance”, “Born Yesterday”) leads a shadowy group intending to manouvere Nick’s political career to their own ends.

Robert Powell

Having done a little reading since watching the film it seems that the story is loosely based on that of the famous Russian mystic monk Grigori Rasputin and his involvement with Tsar Nicholas II. Certainly the parallels are there, and in retrospect there is a clue in the main characters names  – Gregory (Grigori), Nick (Nicholas), Sandra (Alexandra) and Alex (Alexei) and even the family’s surname Rast being Tsar reversed.

Broderick Crawford & Robert Powell

I’m not sure if that helps make any more sense of a film that seems to be a bit confused about what it wants to be or not, to be honest. An odd cinematic offering to be sure, and not hugely well-known even under the alternate title of “Dark Forces”, but Robert Powell’s performance is very good and overall I’d say the movie is definitely worth seeking out and viewing…

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Even In The Dark… Red Is Beautiful

Canadian actor Ryan Gosling (“Drive”, “Crazy, Stupid, Love”) has recently made his directorial debut with the fantasy drama film “Lost River”, which he also wrote and co-produced.

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The movie was poorly received at Cannes in 2014, since when Gosling has apparently re-edited it, trimming the running time by ten minutes. Unfortunately, critics seem to be of the opinion that the remaining ninety five minutes don’t add up to much.

Ryan Gosling
Ryan Gosling

Set in the fictional town of Lost River, where a highway disappears into a huge resevoir under which is a town and theme park. The setting seems to have been inspired by flooded New Orleans and the decaying parts of Detroit – the city in which it was shot.

Gosling has told press that although he grew up thinking everything cool came from Detroit, when he filmed “The Ides Of March” there in 2011 it was very different “there’s bankruptcy, it’s like 40 miles of abandoned buildings. … And within these empty neighborhoods, occasionally there’s a family trying to hold onto their home, and it seemed that the dream had turn into a nightmare for these people. So I thought I’d like to try to make a film about that”.

Christina Hendricks
Christina Hendricks

Single mum Billy (Christina Hendricks – “Mad Men”, “God’s Pocket”) lives in one of the few remaining occupied houses in her neighbourhood with her two sons, toddler Franky and teenager Bones (Iain De Caestecker – “Filth”, “Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.”).

Iain De Caestecker
Iain De Caestecker

Bones retrieves copper from abandoned buildings to sell in order to fund parts for the car he’s trying to get working as he also wants to leave the neighbourhood behind.

Matt Smith
Matt Smith

Unfortunately, he is on the patch that local small crime boss Bully (Matt Smith – “Dr. Who”) considers his own personal kingdom.

Ben Mendelsohn
Ben Mendelsohn

Billy is three months behind with the mortgage payments and is offered a job, by her new bank manager Dave (Ben Mendelsohn – “The Place Beyond The Pines”), at a late night cabaret of horrors that he has set up in town, where the star turn is Cat (Eva Mendes – “Bad Lieutenant”, “2 Fast 2 Furious”).

Saoirse Ronan
Saoirse Ronan

Next door to Billy’s house we find a teenage girl named Rat (Saoirse Ronan – The Host”) living with her grandmother (Barbara Steele – “The Mask Of Satan” who hasn’t spoken a word since her husband died during construction of the reservoir and spends her time watching old home movies.

From all of this we get a story touching on the after-effects of a huge financial crash on ordinary people in amongst a fair amount of weirdness!

Visually, this movie is fantastic. The colours are vibrant, some of the shots – particularly those outdoors and at night – are brilliant. There is much to admire there. In terms of plot, we are on shakier ground. Not a whole lot really happens in the hour and a half, and yet plenty does seem to occur.

Watching this, I really felt echoes of the work of David Lynch and his “Twin Peaks” television series. It’s not the disaster that many would have you believe (though the Detroit Free Press sees positives at play here) but I wouldn’t claim that it will be a cult classic in years to come either. Nonetheless, taken as an experience rather than a story as such, there is much to appreciate and enjoy…

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Love Hurts Like Hell

“Horns” is a fantasy film directed by Alexandre Aja, based on a novel written by Joe Hill (the son of legendary author Stephen King).

Horns
Horns
Kelly Brook in Piranha 3D
Kelly Brook in Piranha 3D

Aja’s previous directorial movies include horror films “The Hills Have Eyes” and “Mirrors”, as well as comedy horror film “Piranha 3D”. Whilst the latter is perhaps not what one midght call a brilliant film, it certainly ticks the boxes if you’re looking for undemanding entertainment that doesn’t require much thought, makes you chuckle, and has the added bonus of the fabulous Kelly Brook in a rather fetching red bikini…

Back to the movie at hand. “Horns” stars Daniel Radcliffe, still most famous for his portrayal of Harry Potter, as Iggy Perrish. Iggy wakes one morning, a year after his girlfriend, Merrin Williams (played by Juno Temple) was raped and murdered, to find two protrusions growing from his forehead.

Juno Temple as Merrin
Juno Temple as Merrin

The whole town in which he lives believe that Iggy is responsible for Merrin’s death, and that he has got away with it, and even Iggy himself cannot be 100% sure that he didn’t do it during a drunken blackout.

He goes to see a doctor about the horns he is sprouting, and very quickly discovers that everyone has a compulsion to tell him their deepest darkest secrets, and can even influence them to act upon these desires.

As the film progresses, Iggy is able to use the paranormal power of his horns to gradually track down Merrin’s real killer – with devastating results.

Daniel Radcliffe as Iggy
Daniel Radcliffe as Iggy

I have seen reviews of this film that complain of a lack of focus, or that the film doesn’t seem to know if it wants to be a comedy, a paranormal film, a horror film, a murder mystery, etc.

Actually, I felt that this was a positive thing – there are some very funny moments, some that are poignant, tense, violent, tragic, touching. Much like life itself, there are many different moods in this film, but for me, underpinning everything else, it was a love story that showed how deep, passionate, heartbreaking and even brutal that love can be.

“Horns” also stars Max Minghella as Iggy’s friend Lee, Joe Anderson as Iggy’s brother Terry, Kelli Garner as Glenna, and Heather Graham as Veronica.

Recommended viewing!