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Sequin in a Blue Room | A Dark Erotic Thriller



Sequin in a Blue Room marks the feature debut of Australian filmmaker Samuel Van Grinsven. Working from an original script penned by Grinsven and Jory Anast, the plot is about a sixteen year old twinky teen known only to the audience as Sequin (played by newcommer Conor Leach). Sequin is his choice of display name on a Grindr-esque hookup app called Anon. He also sports a sequin crop top in all his sexy pictures online, as well as when he goes to meet older men for sex.

When Sequin has an encounter with an alluring stranger (Samuel Barrie) at an anonymous sex party he becomes obsessed with finding this mysterious man. But his deep dive into the sordid corners of these hook-up apps to find this guy puts him in grave danger.

For a first feature Samuel Van Grinsven shows a lot of promise. Sequin in a Blue Room is an intoxicating mix of coming-of-age drama and erotic thriller – two genres that are not easy to marry but for the most Grinsven does a commendable job of blending them together in a gripping fashion.

Sequin boasts a rather unique atmosphere which is quite seductive but there’s also an unshakable feeling of stakes. The plot only occurs over the space of a few days. Sequin hops from bed-to-bed, using a man once for sexual gratification before he blocks them on the app and then moves onto his next sexual conquest. Gay subculture has had a long history with disposable sexual encounters but introducing ghosting into the mix gives Sequin a very modern feel.

But as we see not all of Sequin’s sexual partners appreciate being used and subsequently ignored. Each of Sequin’s sexual encounters is initiated by a title card that reads “Apartment 10, 9, 8” etc. There is a countdown of sorts leading the audience to believe Sequin is heading to a confrontational showdown. It’s a clever subconscious way of building suspense.

Sequin is a very striking looking film. Cinematographers Jay Grant and Carina Burke have a great grasp of composition and lighting. It’s a very grimy looking which feels right at home in a story all about anonymous sex. The scene where Sequin navigates the labyrinth sheeted corridors of the sex party is a standout sequence. The sets are caked in blue neon and coupled with Brent Williams blasting pulsating score makes one feel like you’ve taken a psychedelic trip into a seedy underworld. Samuel Van Grinsven also uses silhouettes and shots from the back Sequin’s head to subtextually show he’s being stalked like the prey. A lot of thought went into how this film looked – every frame carries deeper meaning.

While there is a sense of ever-present danger, the subplot involving Sequin and a fellow gay school mate called Tommy (Simon Croker) counteracts some of the films darker moments with some awkward teenaged humour. This pairing provides levity to a rather sultry story but also helps to anchor the film in reality. Having rather charming adolescent flirty scenes interspersed between a lot of taboo sexual hookups could’ve left the film feeling uneven but Samuel Van Grinsven shows remarkable grasp of his tone.

The only place where subplot feels like a slight detriment is with the finale. The final scene is certainly feel-good cute but it negates a lot the moody tension that made the story so invigorating to watch.

The performances all around are impressive, particularly from it’s young lead Conor Leach who delivers a very measured performance as pretty young thing and emotionally unavailable Sequin. There’s also great work from supporting players like Jeremy Lindsey Taylor as his dad, Ed Wightman as B and Anthony Brandon Wong as the compassionate drag queen Virginia.

Where the film struggles is a lack of nuance in the dialogue – often it’s quite heavy-handed. The scenes in the boys English class practically spoon-feed the subtext to the viewer. Whether it be love, infatuation, obsession or transgression the themes of are essentially spelled out to us. It’s about as subtle as a wrecking ball.

Sequin in a Blue Room will appeal to anyone who enjoys a dark erotic thriller. Fans of Stranger by the Lake, Closet Monster or King Cobra are sure to find Samuel Van Grinsven’s debut equal parts steamy and engaging.

Sequin in a Blue Room is available to rent on Amazon Prime or BFI Player.

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Netflix’s Damsel: Millie Bobby Brown’s Medicore Fantasy Drama Fails Angela Bassett and Robin Wright



Robin Wright, Millie Bobby Brown and Angela Basett in Netflix's Damsel

Netflix’s latest 109-minute original movie, starring Millie Bobby Brown, unfortunately fails to conquer its audience. The twisted dark fairy tale turns into a fantasy survival thriller as the “damsel in distress” faces betrayal and hardships. Directed by Juan Carlos Fresnadillo and written by Dan Mazeau, Damsel offers a beautiful concept with a weak story.

Millie Bobby Brown in Netflix's Damsel

Millie Bobby Brown in Netflix’s Damsel

The opening narration of the movie, “There are many stories of chivalry where the heroic knight saves the damsel in distress. This is not one of them,” sets the tone of the movie as Elodie (Millie Bobby Brown) was ‘sold’ to another kingdom as a bride only to be betrayed by her husband soon after getting married. Hurt, alone, and frightened, the protagonist soon learns that she has been ‘sacrificed’ for the benefit of the kingdom to a dragon. Survival seems hard for the princess as she comes across the dangers of the majestic creature. Brown’s character soon finds out that she is not the first to be sacrificed. Several brides like her have been thrown away for generations like a stick thrown to a dog.

Damsel offers an unusual and strong concept with captivating visuals and cinematography. The traditional classy costumes and rich makeup style match the theme well. As usual, the Stranger Things star offered outstanding dialogue delivery with expectational expressions.

Millie Bobby Brown in Netflix's Damsel

Millie Bobby Brown in Netflix’s Damsel

As much as Millie Bobby Brown’s magnificent performance needs to be applauded one cannot help but notice the waste of fine talents. Yes, we’re talking about multiple award winners, veteran actresses Angela Bassett and Robin Wright, who are highly recognized talents out in the world, famous for their spectacular roles in multiple critically acclaimed projects. Brown’s heavy presence leaves no room for Bassett and Wright to shine. It leaves other actors such as Ray Winstone, Nick Robinson, and Brooke Carter far out from the spotlight.

Damsel includes some heart-wrenching action scenes along with many emotional turning points that make Elodie question her life. She is living in fear, facing betrayal, figuring things out, and most importantly, trying to survive all alone in a dark cave. The bland dialogues in between disrupt the flow of the movie, but the rushed conclusion lashes all hopes to the ground! All the buildup was quickly washed away as the movie ends cursory.

Millie Bobby Brown in Netflix's Damsel

Millie Bobby Brown in Netflix’s Damsel

The period movie challenges patriarchy, inequality, and gender roles. The protagonist Princess Elodie is an open-minded, strong, progressive-thinking character who can do anything for her people – even if it means giving up her dreams and life in an arranged marriage. The women in the movie are bold, strong, rational, and, protective. It is only fitting that Netflix’s Damsel was released on International Women’s Day as the distressed damsel shows she needs no man in shining armor to protect her from the dangers present in the world. She is a brave, daring, sharp-minded young woman who takes revenge and expresses power when it was needed. Game of Thrones may have set a standard for dragons, but this one is no less. We’re sure Khaleesi would be proud of Elodie!

Damsel is available to stream on Netflix.

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Napoleon: Explosive and Victorious!



Joaquin Phoenix as Napoleon Bonaparte (Sony Pictures Entertainment)


Napoleon is a spectacle-filled action epic that details the checkered rise and fall of the iconic French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, played by Oscar®-winner Joaquin Phoenix. Against a stunning backdrop of large-scale filmmaking orchestrated by legendary director Ridley Scott, the film captures Bonaparte’s relentless journey to power through the prism of his addictive, volatile relationship with his one true love, Josephine, showcasing his visionary military and political tactics against some of the most dynamic practical battle sequences ever filmed.

Vanessa Kirby as Josephine Bonaparte and Joaquin Phoenix as Napoleon Bonaparte (Sony Pictures Entertainment)

Movie Review

The movie starts off on a high note, showcasing the end of one of France’s major historical figures while Napoleon watches on. The storyline is centered around some of Napoleon’s highlights in his military career such as the siege of Toulon, the Battles of Austerlitz and Waterloo, as well as his exile to St Helena. Every moment combined with dramatic effect delivers a well-rounded historical war-drama.

We are taken to picturesque locations supported by an epic soundtrack delivered by Martin Phipps (listen below).

Napoleon (Original Soundtrack by Martin Phipps)

The costumes and military regalia is done to perfection. The display of explosive artillery adds to the battle highlights, and watching the movie in a IMAX theatre adds even more value in terms of sound and picture quality.

Even though the movie contains historical inaccuracies, a well dramatised historical account of Napoleon Bonaparte is offered, and Joaquin Phoenix delivers a performance worthy of a medal. Vanessa Kirby plays the part of Empress Joséphine, and delivers

One movie would never be enough to share all of the highlights of the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars, but I feel this movie really summed up some of the stories quite well. The movie is filled with non-stop action between the battlefields and political halls of France. Ridley Scott delivers a war movie that gives us a shortened but powerful glimpse of the legacy of Napoleon Bonaparte. Give him a medal!

I would personally have loved a see an entire series dedicated to the stories of Napoleon Bonaparte.

I rate this movie 4 out of 5. Not for sensitive viewers. Lots of action with a few violent scenes. There are a few sexual scenes but with no graphic nudity.

The movie trailer doesn’t spoil too much of the movie content and is a brilliant appetizer for the history buffs among us. There is no post-credits scene though, so no need to wait till the end.

Watch Napoleon at a cinema near you!

Napoleon Official Trailer (Sony Pictures Entertainment)

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Netflix’s Crashing Eid Review: Love, Culture, and Differences



Crashing Eid

If you are curious about other cultures, or maybe want to see how your culture is represented in mainstream media, then you should binge-watch Netflix’s Arabic Comedy series Crashing Eid this weekend. It’s a 4-episode long series with each episode of roughly 47 minutes. The series revolves around culture, love, differences, family, and drama.

The story focuses on Razan (Summer Shesha) as she finds love for the second time in her life but struggles to convince her family for marriage. Razan is shown to be living in the UK with her daughter Lamar (Bateel Qamlo) and finds her British-Pakastani boyfriend Sameer (Hamza Haq) as a suitable match for herself. She proposes to him for marriage before traveling to Saudi Arabia, her home, to celebrate Eid. Her family is convinced that she is back in Saudi for good but Razan has other plans. She tries to tell them about Sameer but constantly fails due to fear and lack of ‘perfect’ timing. She tells Sameer that her parents have agreed to their marriage as she panics to tell him the truth.

Summer Shesha and Bateel Qamlo in Crashing Eid

Summer Shesha as Razan, Bateel Qamlo as Lamar in Crashing Eid

Here comes the twist – Sameer reaches Saudi to surprise Razan and to meet her parents! She tries her best to handle the situation and hide their relationship with the help of her daughter Lamar. At the end of the episode, the truth uncovers itself and everyone is left disappointed. The story follows Razan’s family drama, bitter relations with her mother, previous abusive marriage, her brother Hasan’s (Yasir Alsaggaf) struggle to connect with his son after losing custody, etc. Her previous marriage with her cousin affected her relationship with her own mother as she blames Razan for the failed marriage.

Summer Shesha’s portrayal of a strong woman struggling with every close person in her life but still managing to face everything with bravery is appreciable. Khalid Alharbi deserves applause for his sweet, loving, and understanding role as Razan’s father.

Yasir Alsaggaf, Summer Shesha and Amani Idrees in Crashing Eid

Yasir Alsaggaf, Summer Shesha, and Amani Idrees in Crashing Eid

Despite a fun twist challenge, representation, and Khalid Alharbi’s brilliant performance, a few parts lack perspective. The story doesn’t completely revolve around Razan yet it fails to involve Lamar’s (Bateel Qamlo) emotions in the family drama. She is seen upset at times but it’s never completely addressed. She plays the role of a typical elder daughter helping out her mother in everything and neglecting herself at times. The ending felt rushed as it doesn’t properly elaborate on how Razan’s mother (Amani Idrees) suddenly changed her mind about her daughter. Emotions take time and that’s what felt rushed.

Summer Shesha, Hamza Haq and Khalid Alharbi in Crashing Eid

Summer Shesha, Hamza Haq, and Khalid Alharbi in Crashing Eid

Crashing Eid  offers strong cultural representation, women empowerment, and how love can help you deal with almost everything. It focuses strongly on social taboos surrounding women and Muslim culture.

Crashing Eid is now available to stream on Netflix.

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