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Cinema Film round-up: June 23, 2022

MARIA DUARTE reviews Theo and the Metamorphosis, The Black Phone, Faya Dayi and Cannon Arm and the Arcade Quest

Theo and the Metamorphosis (18) 
Directed by Damien Odoul

★★★

 

DESCRIBED as a fictionalised documentary poem by film-maker Damien Odour this is a surreal journey in which a 27-year-old with Down’s syndrome and living in the woods attempts to reinvent himself.

It is an intimate odyssey divided into chapters which are full of hallucinations and shifts in which the unconcious plays a primordial role.

You need to take a leap of faith and go with Theo’s flow as he makes the most of his father’s absence and transforms from Theo to TO.

Narrated in voice-over throughout it has at its centre a very brave performance by Theo Kermel as he bares all in this engaging, dreamlike drama with a stream of consciousness narrative.

It is an ingenuous and totally honest endeavour that opens a window into the worlds of those who have Downs — but to connect you need an open mind.


Out in select cinemas from today

 

The Black Phone (15)
Directed by Scott Derrickson

★★★★

 

 

SET IN 1978 The Black Phone is simply a dark and gripping horror film about a serial killer.

Based on the short story by Joe Hill — son of horror writer Stephen King and apparently a chip off the old block — this chilling tale is seen through the eyes of 13-year-old Finney (impressive newcomer Mason Thames) who is abducted by The Grabber (a scary Ethan Hawke).

Finney awakes in a locked soundproof basement (which seems straight out of the Saw franchise) where he starts receiving calls on a disconnected black phone from the killer’s previous victims.

Co-written and directed by Scott Derrickson (Doctor Strange and Sinister) this is a wonderfully unnerving and spine-chilling race-against-time horror as Finney pits his wits against his masked abductor.

It is set against the backdrop of a time when kids could freely roam the streets at all hours, parents could beat their children without repercussions and being bullied was a rite of passage.

Thames gives a standout nuanced performance as the shy Finney, bullied at school and at home by his angry alcoholic father.

But it is Madeleine McGraw as his whip-smart younger sister, whose disturbing dreams appear to come true, who steals the show.

It is a compelling thriller about the power of child resilience and family love. 

Out now in cinemas

 

Faya Dayi (12A) 
Directed by Jessica Beshir

★★★


 

JESSICA BESHIR’S captivating film paints an intriguing picture of the rituals and trade practices — along with the devastating effects — of Ethiopia’s most lucrative crop khat.

According to Ethiopian legend khat was harvested and chewed by Sufi Imams in their search of eternity. It contains the alkaloid cathinone, a stimulant, which is said to cause excitement, loss of appetite, and euphoria. Khat is an illegal class C drug in Britain.

Shot in enigmatic black and white the documentary interweaves a series of recollections and stories about the impact of this plant on communities where it has often replaced traditional coffee production.

Its addictive properties and the high — Merkhana — it produces in its users does over time alter their personalities and has a negative impact on the families of addicts, as recounted by one youngster in the film.

Beshir’s debut feature-length documentary seems like a hypnotic trip with young and old discussing their individual experiences of khat mainly in voice-over which makes it difficult to know who is who as voices blend into one another.

The film shows how khat has become a stimulant of choice for so many (for 16 per cent of the 100 million population) — a haunting depiction of life in Ethiopia today.

 

Out in cinemas from today

 

Cannon Arm and the Arcade Quest (15)
Directed by Mads Hedegaard

★★★

 

 

 

WITH his distinctive mullet and his laid-back yet focused stance Danish gamer Kim Cannon Arm is an unlikely hero as he attempts to make history by playing his favourite ’80s arcade video game for 100 hours in one of the most bizarre yet compelling documentaries.

Cannon Arm is one of the greatest experts on the game Gyruss he has played for over 40 years.

The film written and directed by Mads Hedegaard follows Cannon Arm’s minute preparations leading to his world record-breaking attempt at Copenhagen’s Bip Bip bar supported by his eclectic gaming friends who all share, before the camera, their thoughts and views on his quest.

With exciting visuals and an uplifting sound track to boot this proves a surprisingly riveting ride which at its core is really about love, friendship and camaraderie within the gaming fraternity.

 

Out in cinemas June 24 and on digital release June 27

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