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Run | A Fairly By-the-books Thriller Film

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If you asked me to choose one film from the last few years that I think needs to be seen and talked about more, I would pick Searching (2018). It was one of my favourite films of 2018 and the few people that I’ve spoken to that have seen it all really like it. Searching was such a clever, inventive, and most importantly, originally thriller film that took place entirely on computer screens. The Searching team are back together again now as Run is the second feature film from Searching director Aneesh Chaganty and it’s written by Chaganty and Sev Ohanian, the writers of Searching. Have Chaganty and Ohanian managed to produce another small-scale thriller film that has you on the edge of your seat for the entire time. Absolutely.

Run is a thriller starring Sarah Paulson as the mother of home-schooled teenager Chloe Sherman, played remarkably by Kiera Allen. Chloe has multiple health issues such as partial paralysis, diabetes and asthma meaning her mother Diane does everything for her including helping her take her pills, blood sugar level tests and so on. However, Chloe begins to suspect that her mother is hiding a big secret from her and not telling her the truth about something. Allen is the first wheelchair using actress to star in a thriller film since Susan Peters did so in 1948 in The Sign of the Ram. It’s great that Kiera Allen was cast in this film, not just because she is a fantastic actress that really gives Sarah Paulson a run for her money in this film but also because Hollywood films so rarely cast disabled actors in roles like this. It makes complete sense for an actress in a wheelchair to play a disabled character in a wheelchair in the film.

Run is a perfectly entertaining thriller film and with a runtime of just 89 minutes it does a fairly good job of keeping you engrossed for the entire length of the film. Run, much like Searching has a very tight focus and a small setting that both films really use to their advantage. Whilst Searching was set entirely on computer screens, the majority of Run is set inside the Sherman house with Chloe having very little options to escape.

The film is very contained and very focussed which is good as it means the suspense is sustained throughout the entire film. As a result of being so contained, the film therefore lacks some of the originality that I loved so much about Searching as it doesn’t want to take many risks. Run does play it fairly safe and it doesn’t take many risks or try anything too exciting. That’s why Run is a fairly by-the-books thriller film that does the job of entertaining but it doesn’t really do any more than that.

The biggest problem that I found with Run was that it was fairly straightforward and predictable. This was especially disappointing after Searching was so original and unpredictable so I couldn’t help but feel a little let down by the fact that Run just seems to re-run ground already covered by previous films. It takes a lot from Misery (1990) based on the Stephen King novel, and it even has a very minor character in one scene called Kathy Bates in a very clear and direct nod to Misery. Whilst there’s nothing wrong with this, I just had very high expectations after Searching. Run was still a very good film it just didn’t really bring anything new to the genre.

The two lead performances in the film are excellent with newcomer Kiera Allen holding her own alongside Sarah Paulson and showing how great she is. We’ve seen very similar eerie performances from Sarah Paulson in some of Ryan Murphy’s shows such as Ratched and various seasons of American Horror Story so nothing about her in Run is anything too different or interesting but she still brings exactly what’s required to Diane’s character that helps carry the film along with Kiera Allen. Without the two great central performances, Run would not be anywhere near as good as it.

Run is a very entertaining thriller film that will keep you on the edge of your sofa throughout its entire runtime despite the fact that it doesn’t bring anything new to the genre.

★★★½☆

Run is streaming now on Hulu.

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‘UNDER THE GREY SKY’ Review | A Harrowing Tale of Courage and Resistance

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Under The Grey Sky
Aliaksandra Vaitsekhovich as Lena in 'Under The Grey Sky' (Photo Credit: LOCO Films)

Over the years, we have seen a surge in movies that depict the political unrest around us. Earlier this year, we saw Alex Garland’s ‘Civil War’ making viewers think about what the future might look like for us. Movies like ‘Civil War’ not only focus on how a regime can be so cruel to its people but they also shed light on how some people pay the price of exposing the government’s dirty schemes. One such person is Katsyaryna Andreeva, a Belarusian journalist, who was put behind bars for covering a protest against the corrupt Belarus government. She was labeled as a traitor by her government and sent to prison. Her inspiring, yet troubling story is masterfully captured in Mara Tamkovich’s debut feature film UNDER THE GREY SKY.

The film opens with Lena (Aliaksandra Vaitsekhovich), an intrepid journalist, fearlessly livestreaming the brutal crackdown of a protest against the 2020 Belarusian election results. Her commitment to exposing the truth sets the stage for the intense drama that follows. The protest, which quickly turns violent, is captured in stark detail, showcasing the bravery of those who stand against tyranny. However, Lena’s defiance comes at a steep price; she is swiftly arrested, thrusting her husband, Ilya (Valentin Novopolskij), into a harrowing ordeal. Faced with relentless police raids and the grim possibility of Lena’s long-term imprisonment, Ilya is caught in a moral and emotional predicament. He must decide whether to continue supporting Lena’s cause or to seek a more secure path for himself. On the other hand, Lena is being forced to give a bogus confession and fight her inner demons to navigate through one of the darkest phases of her life. Her unwavering resolve becomes a focal point of the narrative, illustrating the resilience required to withstand oppressive regimes.

It is a poignant exploration of the intersection between technology and political activism in the 21st century. The film underscores how tools like the internet, drones, and social media have become essential in documenting human rights abuses and rallying global support. On the other hand, Tamkovich’s direction is unflinching in its depiction of state-sponsored violence, offering a visceral portrayal of the lengths to which authoritarian regimes will go to maintain control. Cinematographer Krzysztof Trela’s work is particularly noteworthy, as he skillfully captures the oppressive atmosphere of modern-day Belarus. The film’s muted color palette and claustrophobic framing capture the essence of the dark reality faced by those living under autocratic rule.

Aliaksandra Vaitsekhovich delivers a riveting performance as Lena, capturing the journalist’s tenacity and vulnerability with remarkable depth. Her portrayal is both raw and nuanced, conveying the inner strength required to confront an inviolable enemy. Meanwhile, Valentin Novopolskij as Ilya is as brilliant as Aliaksandra. The chemistry between Vaitsekhovich and Novopolskij lends authenticity to the couple’s struggle, and making it a compelling viewing experience.

Overall, Mara Tamkovich’s directorial debut UNDER THE GREY SKY is a harrowing tale of political repression. Tamkovich’s narrative is an unflinching look at the personal sacrifices demanded by political activism. The movie’s tension is palpable, capturing the oppressive atmosphere through gritty, immersive cinematography. The film is an inspiring testament to the enduring fight for justice.

Under The Grey Sky premiered at this year’s TRIBECA FESTIVAL.

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Twisters: A Swooping Storm of Entertainment

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Twisters [credit: Warner Bros/Universal Pictures]

Twisters was on a lot of people’s most anticipated lists for the year, and rightly so given the cast and crew involved. We don’t see a lot of big-budget disaster movies in mainstream Hollywood these days. So the idea of a modern reboot of Twister although slightly strange and sudden, seemed like a breath of fresh air in this world of superhero flicks and silly action comedies. Everything about the project says that the studio was dead serious about this one and was going all in.

 

Universal’s modern adaptation of the classic is helmed by Lee Isaac-Chung and co-produced by Steven Speilberg. It has a story by Top Gun: Maverick helmer Joseph Kosinski and an ensemble cast that includes Daisy Edgar-Jones, Glen Powell, Anthony Ramos, David Corenswet, Sasha Lane, Maura Tierney, Kiernan Shipka, Daryl McCormack, Katy O’Brian, Brandon Perea among others. Basically, every young star that has the potential to be a movie star is in this movie.

 

The movie opens with a long action sequence, where we get introduced to some of the characters including Daisy Edgar-Jones. This tornado sequence sets the tone and expectations for what’s to come. It tries to start off with a bang, but it is a little rocky at the beginning and takes a lot of formulaic tropes. Someone who has seen a lot of blockbuster action movies or disaster movies would almost start to get worried in the first 20 minutes because some of the scenes feel half-backed and lackluster. But once Daisy’s co-lead is introduced, that’s when the movie really gets going.

 

Of course, I’m talking about a little-known actor called Glen Powell. His screen presence is arguably as strong as anyone in the industry right now. He plays a “tornado wrangler’ named Tyler Owens, and his character is as badass as his name. But most importantly, he brings a much-needed injection of energy into the screenplay. Then we go into some exposition and the story goes a lot deeper than one would expect. The characters are well-built and the viewer really starts caring about each one of them.

Twisters [credit: Warner Bros./Universal Pictures]

The movie is shot with 35mm, which works perfectly for the landscape that Isaac-Chung is trying to capture. This is just his second directorial and his first attempt at a big-budget blockbuster, and it shows in his style as he opts to play it safe. he rarely takes big swings or shows ambition in some sequences. Most of the action sequences are thrilling and the tornadoes keep you on the edge of your seat. The visual effect work is also commendable and justifies the massive budget.

 

While the story is effective, the screenplay can be a little up and down at times, mostly in the first half. Another negative is the music choices. While the sound design is splendid, the score and the song choices are not so much. Some of the songs that played in the background were extremely distracting and did not fit at all. The movie also underdelivers on its own standards of brutality that it sets very early on. It also lacks a bit of warmth and is a little lightweight on humor.

 

Twisters succeeds at being a fun, thrilling blockbuster cinematic experience anchored by a magnetic Glen Powell and Daisy Edgar-Jones. The visual aesthetic is on point and tornado sequences make you feel like you’re right in the eye of the chaos. The cast is charming and the characters are treated with care. It may lack warmth and ambition, but it makes sure to entertain you and makes for an exciting summer blockbuster. Definitely worth an IMAX watch.

Twisters will be released in cinemas on July 19.

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‘Jane Austen’s Period Drama’ Review (TRIBECA) | A Brilliant Fusion of Comedy and Social Commentary

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Julia Aks
Julia Aks in a still from 'Jane Austen's Period Drama' (Photo Credit: Mickwick Productions)

We are in 2024 and sadly, the subject of periods or menstruation is still considered to be taboo in several cultures and societies. In cinema, we have seen a lot of titles talking about the issue with great sensitivity. However, none has been so effective and powerful as Julia Aks and Steve Pinder’s Jane Austen’s Period Drama. The short film, which is set against the backdrop of Georgian England, starts with a joyous moment of Miss Estrogenia receiving her much-awaited marriage proposal. However, things go upside down when she realizes that her period has arrived and her dress is drenched with blood. Upon seeing the blood, Mr Dickley takes Estrogenia to her home and calls for a doctor. Although Estrogenia has decided to tell Dickley about menstruation, her mother stops her from doing that because she feels that Mr. Dickley would drop the idea of marrying her daughter.

The movie’s narrative is clever, and witty, and intertwines traditional themes of love, social status, and marriage with contemporary issues of feminity and bodily autonomy. The unique mixture of both these elements creates a distinctive storyline that feels timeless and relevant at the same time. In this narrative, the unexpected period serves as a metaphor for the often unspoken aspects of womanhood that clash with societal expectations of decorum and propriety. This bold narrative allows viewers to be a part of Estrogenia’s life and how she navigates the balance between honesty and societal pressures.

Jane Austen Period Drama

A still from ‘Jane Austen’s Period Drama’ (Photo Credit: Mickwick Productions)

The writing is quirky, yet thought-provoking and explores the subject with sensitivity. The direction by Steve Pinder and Julia Aks is skillful, balancing the film’s comedic elements with its more serious undertones. Another aspect that makes the film such a brilliant watch is its cinematography. The cinematography captures the elegance of the 18th-century setting and opulent interiors that take viewers to a time when things were pretty different. The costumes and period-accurate set designs enhance the movie’s authenticity. Acting-wise. Julia Aks steals the show with a mesmerizing performance. Her performance enhances the viewing experience, giving viewers a glimpse of her impeccable talent. Meanwhile, the supporting cast delivers strong performances, adding richness and complexity to the story. The dynamics between characters are well-developed, with each interaction contributing to the overall narrative.

Overall, Jane Austen’s Period Drama is a brilliant and charming take on the genre of period drama. The film masterfully combines humor, thought-provoking storylines, and heart most extraordinarily. Additionally, the film does occasionally lean into modern sensibilities but never forgets its true destination. Solid performances, engaging script, and beautiful cinematography make this film a must-watch for everyone who loves literature and contemporary comedy.

Jane Austen’s Period Drama had its premiere at the 2024 Tribeca Festival.

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