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‘The Bikeriders’ Review | Jeff Nichols Explores The Motorcycle Subculture In A Magnificent Crime Drama

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Tom Hardy and Austin Butler in a still from 'The Bikeriders' (Focus Features)

Filmmaker Jeff Nichols is known for his unambiguous Southern flavor and organic character. His latest venture The Bikeriders is no different. The film, his first feature film since 2016’s Loving, marks his most ambitious project in terms of scope and budget. Inspired by Danny Lyon’s 1968 photojournalistic book, Nichols explores the gritty and nostalgic 1960s motorcycle subculture, striking a balance between realism and sentimentality.

The movie begins with Benny (Austin Butler) sitting inside a bar and enjoying a drink. That’s when two men come to him and tell him that he needs to take off his jacket because “no colors are allowed” in this bar. When Benny denies taking it off, they get into a fight. Although Benny says nothing to them initially, as soon as one of them tries touching his bike he loses his mind and attacks one of them with his knife. However, he gets smashed by a shovel on the back of his head. This is how the story begins, but as it progresses, we get to know that it is highly inspired by Lyon’s book, which primarily focuses on the Chicago Outlaws Motorcycle Club. In the movie, we see Lyonn talking to Benny’s wife, Kathy (Jodie Comer). Spanning over nearly a decade, Kathy opens up about her experiences with the Vandals, a Chicago-based motorcycle club that gained prominence in the 1960s.

Austin Butler as Benny in ‘The Bikeriders’ (Focus Features)

Nichols’ storytelling prowess shines through in The Bikeriders, as he draws inspiration from Lyon’s book, which documented the Chicago Outlaws Motorcycle Club. The film deconstructs the romanticized view of this era while embracing its nostalgic allure, creating a longing for a bygone time viewed through a critical lens. The story follows the club’s evolution from a tight-knit brotherhood to a violent, mob-like network influenced by the era’s shifting social and political landscapes. At the core of The Bikeriders are three captivating characters: Benny, Kathy, and the club’s leader, Johnny (Tom Hardy). Although the film mainly revolves around the aforementioned characters, it also talks about the time when motorcycle clubs were not known for criminal activities. These people were not just known for their riding, but for their rebellious nature and how they supported each other. However, things went downhill when more and more new members continued to join the club, making it a haven for young criminal minds.

As soon as the group starts to expand, the camaraderie between the original members begins to crumble, turning the story into a darker mob drama with a biker twist. The escalating violence strips away the early romanticism, plunging the audience into a grim reality. The film’s strength lies in its fabulous writing as it follows these larger-than-life figures. Nichols didn’t shy away from showing two very different facets of their lives and dive deeper into the dark side of these motorcycle clubs. Meanwhile, the character development makes the viewing experience better. The pacing varies from moment to moment, but it never pulls the film back or makes the story look directionless. Every moment in this story means something and adds to the narrative.

Jodie Comer as Kathy in ‘The Bikeriders’ (Focus Features)

Acting-wise, Jodie Comer and Austin Butler are stunning as Kathy and Benny. Comer’s portrayal of Kathy is multi-dimensional, showcasing a woman navigating a testosterone-driven world with strength and vulnerability. Her evolution throughout the movie is splendid and conveys a wide range of emotions with utter precision. Despite being the sole female lead in focus, Jodie Comer steals the show with her commanding screen presence. Meanwhile, Butler is magnetic, embodying a smoldering bad-boy image that captivates the audience. He effectively balances Benny’s intense loyalty to the club with his unpredictable nature, creating a character that captivates everyone’s minds. However, it’s Tom Hardy who steals the show as the club’s leader, Johnny. He is fierce, yet soft. Hardy exudes charisma and authority, making him an alluring focal point of the film. His portrayal feels grounded, immersing himself in the world of the 1960s motorcycle subculture depicted in the film. The actor’s commitment to the role enhances the film’s realism and credibility.

Additionally, the film boasts of a superb supporting cast, including Michael Shannon as Zipco, Boyd Holbrook as Cal, Norman Reedus as Funny Sonny, Damon Harriman as Brucie, and Emory Cohen as Cockroach. All the aforementioned actors are brilliant in their respective roles and bring authenticity to the story.

The film is also rich in its technical aspects.  The sound, cinematography, costume design, and vibrant 60s soundtrack enhance the movie’s immersive quality. Nichols draws viewers in by initially showing how cool everything is and then confronts them with its harsh, violent reality. Overall, The Bikeriders is another win for Jeff Nichols and his exceptional storytelling. It is a dramatic and immersive journey into the tumultuous world of the outlaw motorcycle club, the Vandals MC. The Bikeriders offers a riveting look at the culture that might have lost its spark.

‘The Bikeriders’ is scheduled to release in theatres on June 21.

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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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HORROR

Longlegs: An Atmospherically Distressing Exploration of Evil

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Longlegs [credit: neon]

Longlegs has been the talk of the town with early screening reactions terming it as “the scariest movie of the decade”, which not only raises eyebrows but also significantly raises expectations. Neon is backing it with a strong marketing campaign that has got many horror fans extremely excited about it. Oz Perkins’ latest horror feature stars Maika Monroe, Nicolas Cage, Blair Underwood and Alicia Witt.

 

The official synopsis says “In pursuit of a serial killer, an FBI agent uncovers a series of occult clues that she must solve to end his terrifying killing spree.” Maika Monroe plays Lee Harker, the FBI agent on the hunt for Longlegs, described as highly intuitive and sensitive, while Nic Cage who also produces the movie, plays the horrifying serial killer. Perkins sets the standard right off the bat with the very first scene of the movie, which proves to be just an appetizer for what’s to come.

 

Longlegs [credit: neon]

The movie is divided into 3 parts that act as the standard three acts in a feature. The first two acts are heavily focused on Lee as we get to know her and follow the FBI’s pursuit of a serial killer on a spree. Lee is a single child, lives alone in a cabin in the woods, and is highly intuitive, maybe even psychic. She is able to decode the clues left behind by Longlegs at the locations of the murders. Her performance is restrained yet penetrative and often symbolizes how the viewer feels while watching Longlegs.

 

Nicolas Cage is horrifyingly creepy as our serial killer. He is the best horror villain since Bill Skarsgaard’s Pennywise in my opinion. His screen time is limited but, highly impactful. The makeup and costume design deserves a lot of credit for his extremely gross appearance and at times you won’t be able to recognize that it’s Cage under that wig. He has a certain mannerism that is extremely distressing and just his words are enough to scare the hell out of you. Perkins manages to get the best out of both his leads, while the supporting cast is decent as well.

 

When it comes to the visuals, this is a very aesthetically strong film. Perkins manages to create atmospheric tension and fear with constantly changing aspect ratios and his color grading choices which are supported by a crisp sound design. Where he falls short is the writing. The movie is too slow at times which causes it to lose its intensity. Some of the dialogues also feel very generic or amateur, with jokes that feel abrupt and unnecessary.

Longlegs [credit: neon]

The movie also slips into multiple genres, most of which are intentional but do not necessarily work. It is a horror movie at the outset but also a serial killer crime drama, an investigative thriller with shades of noir and supernatural. The writing really falls off a cliff in the third act, with a twist that makes sense, but massively underwhelmes. That said, the way it explores evil is intriguing and offers a lot of food for thought. I would suggest going into this movie without any knowledge, the lesser you know the better.

 

Longlegs may not be the scariest movie of the decade but has more than enough to crawl under your skin and deliver pulsating chills. It has strong lead performances, effective jumpscares, and a beautifully unnerving aesthetic and works best when it explores evil and focuses on its characters. Horror fans should definitely experience this suffocating and haunting ride. Perkins’ latest feature is his best so far, but that said, it gets buried under its immense expectations.

Longlegs will be released in cinemas on July 12.

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(TRIBECA) ‘I NEED YOUR LOVE’: Camille Trust Offers a Heartfelt Look at Music Industry Sacrifices and Triumphs

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I Need Your Love
Camille Trust in a still from 'I Need Your Love' (Photo Credit: Via Vespucci Productions)

Making a career in the music industry is never easy. Yes, musicians do have platforms such as YouTube, and Spotify to showcase their talent, but that doesn’t mean every aspiring musician will turn out to be the next Justin Bieber or Taylor Swift. Several aspiring musicians face immense challenges to achieve success in the music industry, yet their struggles often remain from public view. Mostly, we hear from artists who have made it big in the world of music, leaving the sacrifices of countless artists unrecognized. One such artist carving out her path is Camille Trust. Despite reaching a notable level of success, Trust never lost her way and continues to strive for greater heights. Her music has been praised by several big outlets. However, Trust stays grounded, fully aware of the sacrifices she made to reach where she is today. To shed light on her journey and countless aspiring musicians, Trust, in collaboration with director Walker Kalan, launched an indie series I Need Your Love.

The series, which had its premiere at this year’s TRIBECA FESTIVAL, follows the journey of Camille Trust and provides an authentic look at the challenges faced by the musicians trying hard to make it big in the industry. Although the narrative does sound a bit serious, Trust and Kalan blend the serious storyline with a brilliant mix of quirkiness and hilarious situations. From the very first scene, I Need Your Love serves as a bittersweet comedy that plunges viewers into the gritty reality of the music industry through the eyes of pop singer Camille Trust. It is a heartfelt and humorous depiction of the relentless pursuit of musical stardom in the middle of New York’s cutthroat scene. The series opens with an unflinching look at how aspiring musicians have to perform in settings that might not be ideal for any kind of performance. This particular scene sets the tone for the series that is brutally honest, yet darkly comedic.

Photo Credit: Via Vespucci Productions

One of the standout aspects of I Need Your Love is its ability to tackle serious issues with a satirical edge. The episode focusing on toxic fandoms, for instance, provides a scathing yet humorous critique of obsessive fan behavior. Trust’s firsthand experiences with aggressive fans add a layer of authenticity to the narrative, highlighting the often-overlooked dark side of fame. This episode strikes a delicate balance between satire and sincere commentary. Walker Kalan’s direction brings a nuanced balance to the series, seamlessly blending humor with the emotional weight of Trust’s journey. The writing is sharp, capturing the absurdity and frustration of the music industry while never losing sight of the human element.

Acting-wise, Camille Trust is mesmerizing. She never lets her guard down and doesn’t shy away from letting people know about her struggles. Trust’s portrayal is raw and authentic, making her the beating heart of the show. Her journey is very relatable not just with the people in the music industry but with people across all professions. Meanwhile, the supporting cast – Inès Nassara, Athan Chekas, Willy Rincón, and Ben Becher – comprised largely of Trust and Kalan’s friends, brings a level of authenticity to the series. The chemistry between the actors is natural and enhances the viewing experience.

All in all, I Need Your Love balances humor and moments of desperation in the most authentic way possible. Camille Trust is a treat to watch and should be applauded for making herself vulnerable to show the reality of her life as a musician. Most importantly, the series makes her struggles deeply relatable and her triumphs all the more rewarding.

(‘I NEED YOUR LOVE’ debuted two episodes at this year’s TRIBECA FESTIVAL)

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