Month: July 2021

Dirt Music (2021)

Written for RAF News July 2021

Trapped in a loveless relationship, Georgie takes a midnight dip in the ocean, only to find a mysterious, hunky man poaching lobsters from her fella’s business.

Kelly Macdonald stars as the Australian fishwife, living on the coast, apparently under the watchful eye of her boyfriend Jim Buckrich (David Wenham) and his lobster empire. Warning this sexy intruder to go quietly in the night, it’s not long before he steals her away too.

Theirs is a strange affair, motivated by a shared desire to escape, Georgie from her present situation but for broody lobster thief and ex-musician Lu Fox (Garett Hedlund) it is his tragic past. But for all of their common goals, there is no accounting for chemistry and so there interactions feel strained and confusing. What is clear is that lobster boss Buckrich is not the forgiving type and so aims to catch up to them both as they head Perthward.

Lu Fox is presented as rugged and mysterious, down to his dog with no name. His quietness alludes to a dark past that will be eked out in flashbacks over the course of its full runtime of 105 minutes. It is some feat that the romance feels rushed and forced, whilst the film itself drags along and outstays its welcome.

We’re over half way into the film before we hear any of the music promised in the title, a Mumford and Sons style country-singing trio comprised of Lu, his brother, and sister-in-law. What became of the band will all be revealed, but far too slowly, to the point that you might lose interest.

Even the eventual revelation and original songs can’t stop Dirt Music from being as dull as ditchwater.

Deerskin (2021)

Written for RAF News July 2021

The hilariously strange and simple story of one man so enchanted by a second-hand deerskin jacket, that he sets out on an impossible task of making it the only jacket in the world – by any means necessary.

It seems Georges is going through a breakup, perhaps because he spent the last of his money on this entrancing item of clothing, and now can’t even afford to stay at the little hotel where he now resides. He spends his time filming himself with a handheld digital camera in the mirror, through the illustrious fringe of his sleeve, admiring his ‘killer style’. He talks to the jacket, he talks back as the jacket, taunting and tempting himself to destroy all other jackets and anyone who gets in the way. 

It is the detail of Deerskin that sets the tone, from the particular sound design to the deadpan performances, managing to be both tense and absurdly funny. Jean Dujardin plays Georges with a perfect blend of egotism and naive stupidity, pretending to be a filmmaker despite having zero knowledge of the craft. Adèle Haenel plays the barmaid at the small hotel, who moonlights as an editor and so is sucked in to become a collaborator on what will ultimately become his masterwork.

Already wonky, the film takes another turn for the weird and our Georges becomes a crazed voyeur, a peeping Tom with an obsession for outerwear, stalking strangers with the propensity to wrap up of a snowy night and demanding they strip down on camera or face the blade of his ceiling fan, his homemade weapon of choice.

French writer, director Quentin Dupieux is no stranger to absurdity, having made Rubber, a film about a serial killer car tyre, but in Deerskin everything is played straight, which makes it that much funnier as it dives into slasher exploitation.

Out of Death (2021)

Written for RAF News July 2021

Titled like a 90s Steven Seagal movie, Out of Death actually stars Bruce Willis (albeit fleetingly) as a retired Philadelphia cop who is out on a spiritual stroll in the woods when he stumbles upon a young woman being held at gunpoint by police.

Shannon (Jamie King) had, moments before, overseen a drug deal turned violent whilst out on a soul cleansing ramble herself, and now finds herself the only witness to their crime. A loose end to be tied up, lest an ageing action star should drop by, channeling what’s left of his inner John Maclane.

On a tight shooting schedule, made tighter by Covid restrictions, Willis actually shot all of his scenes in one day. This is impressive but believable as he barely features in the film at all, appearing more as a spirit animal to guide Shannon along the way.

Split into chapters, with a couple of time jumps and other borrowed directorial signatures, you could think that the film is trying to emulate something by Tarantino, before it gives up and nosedives into the most mundane cat and mouse chase. Emotion is signposted and exposition is heaped on top, as corrupt Sheriff Hank Rivers (Michael Sirow) brings a Kevin Spacey energy to his villainy, trying to track down all of those involved, aiming to bury all leads that could threaten his run for Mayor.

As low budget and generic as its title might suggest, if you’ve come for Bruce you’re best off just looking at the poster, or watching any of his other direct-to-streaming productions of recent years.

A Perfect Enemy (2021)

Written for RAF News July 2021

Two perfect strangers find a dark psychological connection when forced together in this puzzle-box thriller.

After speaking at a conference in Paris, renowned architect Jeremiasz rushes to catch his flight home to Warsaw but is waylaid when he allows another passenger to join his cab-ride. Having to turn back for her luggage, they arrive too late and are stuck waiting until the next available flight. Here he is forced to endure this young woman’s stories, until she reveals a secret that piques his interest.

A Perfect Enemy takes place for the most part in an airport, except for the stories described to Jeremiasz by this insistent presence. The unlikely named Texel Textor is the driving force of their interactions, brash and repellent, but there is no escape from her – he would know: as one of the architects behind this airports design.

There is a small model that credits Jeremiasz in the lounge, plotting the layout of the terminal but impossibly including miniatures of our two conversationalists. An enigmatic diorama that reminds of the hedge maze in The Shining, but the bigger mystery here is why Jeremiasz entertains her at all in the first place.

Texel is established as a nuisance, rattling off childhood anecdotes much to the annoyance of her poor victim, when she confesses to murder however, he leans in. The flip-flop of their dynamic is hard to believe and stay invested in, but there are many unlikely details that become forgivable as the film plays out.

When the momentum of the revelations picks up, there is less time to get hung up on plausibility, and so it becomes more thrilling until the pay off. Or maybe just like Jeremiasz forced to listen until interested, it’s a matter of Stockholm syndrome.