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CINEMA Film round-up

Reviews of White Colour Black, Bad Tales, Sator and Burn it All

White Colour Black (15)
Directed by Joseph A Adesunloye 
★★★

THE idea of identity — who we are, where we come from and where we belong — especially in the wake of Brexit, is explored in this moving and powerful debut feature by writer-director Joseph A Adesunloye.

The film is loosely based on the British, Nigerian-born filmmaker’s own experiences and is seen through the eyes of London-based photographer Leke (champion boxer turned actor Dudley O’Shaughnessy) who is of mixed race and who, on learning of his estranged father’s death, is forced to return home to Senegal and his dad’s village.

As well as struggling with the loss of his father, Leke has to grapple with his dual identity — feeling confused and conflicted in a culture that is alien to him, having left it at a very young age.

There are also villagers who treat him as an outsider and traitor for having abandoned both their ways and his dad, who they adored and respected.

It is a visually arresting and sexually powered journey of self discovery for Leke as he abandons his carefree, hedonistic lifestyle to reconnect with his Senegalese roots. The striking O’Shaughnessy portrays Leke’s slow transformation with natural aplomb.

It is a deeply thought-provoking drama which challenges the notion of where we ultimately belong.

MD
Available on Curzon Home Cinema

Bad Tales
Directed by Damiano D’Innocenzo and Fabio D’Innocenzo 
★★★★

SET in the outskirts of modern-day Rome, deep in middle-class suburbia, this wonderfully dark morality tale about disgruntled couples and their questionable parenting skills is a surreal gem. 

Writer-directors the D’Innocenzo brothers deliver a visually imaginative yet disturbing and macabre drama of a slow descent into tragedy as the film follows the lives of a number of families.

The unhappy couples feel frustrated and unfulfilled with their lot in life and take it out on their children, who are embarking on a journey of sexual discovery, tween angst and bomb making.

The film starts and ends on a gruesome news story about a young couple who drowned their baby daughter before committing suicide, setting an unusual tone for the rest of the drama in which the children are the true stars of this film — providing it with an explosive ending. It must be seen to be believed. 

MD
Available on demand

Sator
Directed by Jordan Graham
★★★★

THE legacy of The Evil Dead looms large, in the most respectful of ways, as filmmaker Jordan Graham similarly takes to the woods for his seven-year labour of love: unsettling chiller Sator.

An experimental production in which Graham himself reportedly performed every possible behind-the-line job — up to and including set building — Sator follows the various members of a family set upon by a malevolent supernatural entity. With shades of It Comes at Night and Robert Eggers’s The Witch, Graham’s craftsmanship is truly something to behold, offering up less a cinematic work than a handcrafted horror heavyweight.

As the genre continues to afford the most fertile ground for young imaginative filmmakers working today, Jordan Graham makes for quite the splash with this compelling and creepy tale that runs the risk of alienating audiences at times with a somewhat ominous sensibility, but one which is unsettlingly memorable.

VC
Available on demand

Burn it All (15)
Directed by Brady Hall
★★★★

BETWEEN the overall feel of its production and the prominent titling of its helmer as “writer, cinematographer and director,” there’s no room for doubt that creator Brady Hall is passionately involved throughout this female-driven vigilante survival romp, Burn It All.

There’s more that works than doesn’t in this visceral but ambitious thriller, in which embittered down-on-her-luck vet Alex returns home in the wake of her estranged mother’s death, only to find her corpse in the clutches of an organ-harvesting ring, of whom she quickly falls afoul.

A mixed bag that offers more than a few revels, Burn It All is a frustrating time that ultimately emerges triumphant, but only on balance.

An uneven turn from lead Elizabeth Cotter, for instance, runs the gamut from compelling to outright curdling; while Hall’s screenplay similarly veers between moments of Shane Black-level cynical wit and the disruptively groan-inducing.

When it all lines up, however, Hall stands cheekily as an untapped Jeremy Saulnier in the making — his eye for lean no-frills storytelling working hand-in-hand with a scrappy punk-like sensibility.

Burn It All is a thriller with ambition, wildly exceeding its obviously meagre budget. But, in Hall’s hands, you wouldn’t know it.

VC
Available on demand

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